Donating your child's umbilical cord blood is safe.
Because the collection procedure takes place after delivery of the baby, the medical risk to the mother and child is virtually non-existent. Umbilical cord blood (cord blood) can be collected from all routine pregnancies. There is a remote risk of serious outcome if there is an unexpected twin which has not been delivered. This is why this program is for single birth deliveries only. If there is any concern about the safety of mother or baby, collection is not made.
There are no costs to donate cord blood.
You will not be charged for any expenses resulting from the collection of the cord blood, its processing, storage, or distribution to transplant patients. Likewise, your insurance company will not be billed for anything associated with your donation. The St. Louis Cord Blood Bank will pay for the cord blood collection and all associated costs.
The difference between public and private cord blood banks.
When a donation is made to a public cord blood bank, such as the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank, the cord blood undergoes extensive testing before it is typed, frozen, stored, and listed with registries where it can be matched with people who need a transplant. These registries make the cord blood unit available worldwide. Donating is absolutely free.
Private cord blood banks are available for parents who wish to store their child's cord blood specifically for the child or another family member. No one can access the blood except the parent or the child at the age of consent. This process must be coordinated with the private cord blood bank well in advance of your delivery. The cost for private storage ranges from hundreds to thousands of dollars, plus a yearly storage fee.
Why public cord blood banks are important.
More than 70 percent of children and adults requiring a bone marrow transplant do not have an immune matched sibling. Only half of these people will be able to find a matched, unrelated donor through the national bone marrow registries. Cord blood that has been immunologically typed and frozen offers an alternate transplant source for these people. By collecting cord blood from donors of different ethnic backgrounds, a larger number of patients will benefit.
The St. Louis Cord Blood Bank at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center is a public donor program that, in cooperation with other cord blood banks, serves as a world-wide resource for children and adults in need of a stem cell transplant. Stored cord blood units can be shipped and used at a time that is optimal for the patient.
St. Louis Cord Blood Bank meets the highest ethical standards.
Embryonic stem cells require the destruction of an embryo in order to be used for testing and research. However, cord blood is a source of adult stem cells like those contained in bone marrow. Because cord blood stem cells are collected after the birth of a healthy infant, and pose no risk to the donating mother or baby, there are no ethical issues or controversy connected with the use of these cells.
Sometimes cord blood units do not meet criteria for use in transplanting. Typically this occurs if the amount of cord blood collected is too small or the unit contains too few cells. In this case, it may be used for research purposes that have been approved by the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank.
The St. Louis Cord Blood Bank does not participate in any activities that are designed to promote human cloning or the creation of human embryos for the specific purpose of producing embryonic stem cells for research.
Cord blood is very valuable
During pregnancy, the placenta and blood within it serve as the lifeline of nourishment from mother to baby through the umbilical cord. Following the birth, these items are usually discarded. However, cord blood is rich in stem cells, similar to the ones found in bone marrow. These hematopoietic stem cells create all of a person's blood cells: red cells that carry oxygen, white cells that fight disease, and platelets that help blood clot.
Children and adults with leukemia, metabolic disorders, immune deficiencies, bone marrow failure, or genetic disorders such as sickle cell disease, are being successfully treated with cord blood stem cell transplants to replace cells that are abnormal or have been wiped out by therapy.
How and when cord blood is collected
After the baby is born, the umbilical cord is clamped, cut and separated from the baby. The baby is then placed in the mother's arms or taken to a warmer. While waiting for the placenta to deliver, your physician or midwife will collect the cord blood remaining in the placenta.
This is done by inserting a needle into the umbilical vein after cleansing the umbilical cord. The blood drains into a standard blood donor collection bag by gravity. The entire procedure is noninvasive, painless and does not interfere with the birthing process. There is no change in the actual delivery process.
Nothing is more important at the time of birth than the health of mother and child. If at anytime your physician or midwife becomes concerned about the health of you or your baby, the cord blood collection will not take place.
If you are considering donating your child's cord blood, call the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank at 314-268-2787 or 888-453-2673 to register. A nurse is available to answer your questions between the hours of 7 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You may make this call at anytime during your pregnancy.