Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cord Blood Donation...A Generous Gift!

Umbilical cord blood consists of stem cells that can "transform" into various types of healthy cell tissue. That tissue may be a treatment for many serious illnesses, including leukemia and other cancers, sickle cell disease, brain tumors, and osteoporosis. In the future, stem cells from donated cord blood may also be used to treat heart disease, vision loss (due to loss of corneal epithelial cells), Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and diabetes.  Unlike the ethical issues that surround embryonic stem cell research, stem cells from live-birth cord blood are collected from an umbilical cord that would otherwise be thrown away, so there are no moral barriers.

Cord blood banking is a popular topic among expectant moms.  If you are expecting, you get bombarded with info in the mail, at the OB’s office, and in a variety of parenting magazines.  Umbilical cord blood is a very valuable resource that can save lives, but what a lot of people don’t know is that you don’t necessarily have to bank it.  A much less common practice is cord blood donation!

Why Donate: Cord blood banking can be very expensive. It costs approximately $1,400 for the collection and storage then about $125 per year.  Donating cord blood is usually FREE.  Whether you plan on banking or donating your cord blood it requires some research and preparation prior to the birth of your baby.  If your labor and delivery hospital is not a collection site, there are private collection centers that will send you the paperwork and collection kit prior to the birth of your little one.

Umbilical cord blood is so valuable, yet it is most often discarded.  People are simply unaware that if you don’t want to bank it, you can donate it!  Another important factor that the banking centers don’t tell you, it that in many cases if your child or a family member needs a cord blood transfusion, it needs to be from an unrelated donor. 

How it Works: Your cord blood donation will be screened for diseases and genetic issues. If the blood does not meet eligibility criteria, it may be used for research (if you gave consent for that use). If the cord blood does meet requirements, it will be stored at a public cord blood bank and entered on a registry which doctors can search to find matches.  Stem cell research has given "the miracle of birth" a whole new meaning: A newly delivered infant has the potential to save the life of another human being, just by donating umbilical cord blood that would otherwise be thrown away.

For more information on umbilical cord blood donation and for a list of collections centers near you check out the link below:

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