Cord blood donation gets less attention than regular blood donation, plasma donation and other health related donation centers, because it is a unique one-time donation that is seldom talked about prior to a baby’s birth. Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells from the donated cord blood which is used to treat serious illness such as lymphoma, leukemia.
When a baby is born, the placenta and umbilical cord are usually thrown away. Its function was to nourish the child in the womb and is unneeded after birth. Unfortunately, not many know about the life saving properties of cord blood and hospitals and medical communities haven’t begun soliciting donations like they do for blood and organ donations. Most of the time, the unneeded tissue is thrown away. If it is kept, most people use cord blood banking for future issues, but don’t realize that they can donate the cord blood and it can be used to save someone else’s life.
In cases that it is donated, a needle is used to remove the blood from the umbilical cord. It is then transported to a facility where they test the blood and then if usable, store it and enter the details into the national registry. When someone is in need of a transplant, their doctor will search the registry and when a match is found, treatment can begin. A patient’s best chance for success is to find a match within his own family. Usually it is his brother or sister, but 7 out of 10 patients will need to find sources outside of their immediate family.
The national registry for bone marrow donation also keeps track of blood cord donations. Medical staff can search this registry to find a match for patients requiring transplant. In 2010 there were over 1,000 blood cord transplants done; more than 500 came from public donation centers via the national match registry. This is why it’s so important to continue encouraging the cord blood donation to public donation centers. Much like bone marrow, cord blood has the potential to save thousands of lives each year, but only if a match for the patient can be found in time.
The New York Blood Center’s National Cord Blood Program currently has accepted over 50,000 donations and has collection centers in New York, Ohio and Virginia. They average an 85 percent successful matching of those in need of donated cord blood to treat illness and genetic disorders. Ethnic or racial heritage plays a role in how successful treatment is. Studies show that the closer match that can be found, the better chance for success of the transplant. At this time, there is a strong need for more ethnically diverse donations.
Have your or someone you know donated your child’s cord blood? What are your thoughts and opinions on cord blood donation? Feel free to let us know in the comments!
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