July is Cord Blood Awareness month. If you aren’t familiar, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains that cord blood (or blood acquired from human umbilical cords) can be donated to treat diseases such as sickle cell disease, leukaemia, blood cancers, or severe aplastic anemia. Cord blood is one of 3 transplant options (other than donating peripheral blood stem cells or bone marrow) to help a patient in need of a bone marrow transplant when a matched patient relative can’t be found.
Blood cord donation is life-saving for patients with very little disruption for the donor. For instance, the NIH explains that blood from umbilical cords can be obtained soon after delivery from unrelated patients. The very small amount of the adult stem cells in the umbilical cord can be frozen, stored, and donated directly to a patient or to help improve the treatment of numerous genetic disorders and blood diseases. Here are some vital facts and tips on why and how to save your newborn’s cord blood…
1. Choosing to Donate Cord Blood
According to the National Marrow Donor Program, BeTheMatch.org, cord blood can be donated towards the treatment of over 80 life-threatening blood and genetic diseases (i.e., sickle cell disease, leukaemia, lymphoma, and blood cancer). However, many parents aren’t even made aware of the option to donate cord blood during their birthing consolation.
BeTheMatch.org explains that following the birthing process, typically 95-percent of cord blood (placenta and umbilical cord) is discarded as medical waste. However, a newborn’s cord blood can be donated or privately stored without putting mom or baby at risk.