Important Questions about Cord Blood Donations
The establishment of a cord blood bank in Arkansas may raise many medically related questions regarding the collection of cord blood and its usage in transplants. The answers to some of the most frequently asked questions are as follows:
What is an umbilical cord blood unit, and how is it used in a transplant?
A cord blood unit is the term used for the blood collected from the umbilical cord and placenta (after birth) when a baby is born. Cord blood is rich in blood-forming cells that can be used in transplants for patients with leukemia, lymphoma and many other life-threatening diseases. Cord blood is one of three sources of cells used in transplants; the other two are bone marrow and peripheral (circulating) blood, also called peripheral blood stem cell or PBSC transplants.
Are umbilical cord blood cells the same as embryonic stem cells?
No. Umbilical cord blood cells are taken from the baby’s umbilical cord and placenta after the baby is born, and not from an embryo.
How do doctors decide when to use cord blood for a transplant?
Cord blood is especially useful for the following:
- Patients who need transplants quickly, because cord blood units are stored and ready for immediate use.
- Patients who have had difficulty finding a matched bone marrow donor. Cord blood does not have to match a patient’s tissue type as closely as donated bone marrow does.
- Patients from racially or ethnically diverse communities who often have uncommon tissue types. Since cord blood does not have to match the patient as closely as bone marrow does, it may offer more people from diverse racial and ethnic communities a second chance at life.
Who can use donated cord blood?
If cord blood is donated to a public bank, the cord blood can be transplanted into any patient whose doctor selects the cord blood unit as the best match for that patient. The donated cord blood is not reserved for the donor’s family. If cord blood is donated for family use, only that family can use it. There is a fee for the collection and an annual fee to store it.
Is it possible to donate cord blood for public use in Arkansas?
Yes, the Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas is able to take donations from any hospital in the state of Arkansas.
What if I decide a month, or two weeks, or even the day of my delivery that I want to donate?
While the decision can be made to donate at any point leading up to delivery, it is most efficient to contact the cord blood bank by your 34th week of pregnancy. This gives us time to verify donor eligibility and send the cord blood collection kit to you. We can enroll a potential donor later than the 34th week of pregnancy, but this increases the risk that the donor may deliver before we evaluate the application packet or send the cord blood collection kit to her.
Are cord blood transplant patients ever given information about their donor?
No. Identifying information is never exchanged between a cord blood donor and a cord blood transplant recipient.
Will donating my baby’s umbilical cord blood change my delivery experience?
Donating cord blood will not change your labor or delivery in any way. No blood is taken from your baby, only from the cord and placenta after the baby is born.
How is my privacy and that of my baby protected after I have donated to a public cord blood bank?
The cord blood bank keeps the mother’s name confidential and protects the privacy of the family. Names are not shared with any patient or transplant center. The baby’s cord blood is identified by a number, never by name.
How can I support the mission of the Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas?
Join the Friends of the Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas, a group of volunteers dedicated to better health care in our state. You can make a donation of any amount using this form and mailing your gift to the address provided, or donate online by clicking HERE (link will open in new window). Be sure to put ‘Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas’ in the area called “Fund Name” to ensure your donation goes where you want it to. Private support is essential to the establishment of the Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas. Some employers will match charitable contributions, so check with your employer if you are interested in making a contribution.
Please make a gift today to save a life tomorrow.