Cord Blood Awareness Month
July is National Cord Blood Awareness Month. Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital is the only hospital in Eastern Washington that has a cord blood program. We collect donated cord blood after a mother gives birth.
What is cord blood and why is it so important?
- After a baby is born and the umbilical cord is cut, the remainder of the umbilical cord (the part that is discarded as medical waste) is rich with blood forming cells (stem cells) that can be collected and stored in a public cord blood bank and made available to patients with leukemia, lymphomas, some cancers and a variety of other diseases.
- Because cord blood doesn’t have to match a patient’s tissue type as closely as donated marrow, more patients are able to get transplants.
What is the risk to mom or baby?
- Umbilical cord blood donation poses little risk to donors.
How much does it cost?
- There is no charge for donating to a public cord blood bank.
Who can be a cord blood donor?
- Moms need to consent to be cord blood donors before giving birth and they must be 18 years of age.
- We advise parents to talk to their provider or they can let the hospital staff know that they want to be a cord blood donor.
How is cord blood collected?
- After the baby is born, and the doctor has cut the umbilical cord, if a mom has consented to be a cord blood donor, the staff will look at the remaining cord and collect the blood into a special bag that is forwarded to the lab.
What happens to the cord blood after it’s collected?
- Umbilical cords come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes there just is no blood. But, if it meets the criteria for banking (in terms of volume) then the labor and delivery staff pack the unit and send it to the cord blood bank where it is frozen and a remains available to patients in search of compatible cells.
What if I ever need my cord blood?
- If you donate to a public cord blood bank, you agree to make it available to anybody who needs it. If you should need it, we can’t guarantee that it will still be there, however, if it is, it is yours.
Who has access to my cord blood?
- When a patient needs a transplant, his or her doctor will search the National Marrow Donor Program’s Be The Match registry for a cord blood unit or marrow donor.
- Names of cord blood donors are not share with transplant centers. The baby’s cord blood is never identified by name, only by a number.
Thank you. We know this is a personal decision, we simply want moms delivering in Yakima to know that this is an option. If it’s going to be thrown away, why not consider donating it?