Frequently Asked Questions for Expectant Families
Cord blood banking refers to the process of collecting and preserving the stem cells that remain in the blood of the umbilical cord and the placenta after the birth of a baby. Cord blood stem cells are the richest sources of stem cells found in nature. If it is not donated, cord blood is considered medical waste and will be discarded after birth.
Cord blood stem cells are currently used to treat over 80 diseases, such as leukemia and other blood cancers. In addition, clinical trials are being conducted using cord blood to develop therapies for more common childhood disorders, such as autism and cleft palates, along with heart disease, diabetes and cerebral palsy.
Yes, cord blood stem cells are unique in a number of ways. Because these stem cells are the “youngest” form of stem cells, they more easily adapt, which means that the donor and recipient do not have to be a perfect match. Collection of cord blood stem cells is painless and occurs after the baby has been delivered. Most mothers do not know that the cord blood has even been collected.
Your provider will collect the cord blood once the baby is safely delivered. After the cord has been clamped and cut, and, before the placenta detaches, the blood is collected from the umbilical cord. This process takes about 5-7 minutes. Donating your baby’s cord blood does not change your labor or delivery in any way.
Donating cord blood does not harm the baby or mother. It is considered a safe medical procedure. Cord blood is collected after the birth of the baby; therefore, it will not interrupt the birthing experience. Make sure the medical staff knows you will be donating the cord blood so they will be prepared.
Cord blood donation is possible when following the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines of 30-60 seconds for delayed cord clamping.
After the birth of your child, the blood remaining in the placenta and umbilical cord is collected and delivered to the Upstate Cord Blood Bank. Samples of the cord blood are then tested and processed. In order for the cord blood to be frozen, stored and used for transplant, it must meet regulatory standards.
Since cord blood has only been used since 1988, it is not known how long cord blood remains viable. However, even the earliest preserved cord blood does not show signs of deterioration.
Although it may be possible, it is not guaranteed that you will be able to get your cord blood back. Once donated, it may have already been used at the time of your request. Because this is a donation, your baby's cord blood could be used by anyone in need of a life-saving transplant. However, if it is available, the unit will be provided to the family through standard policy and procedure.
You should tell your doctor as soon as possible. The donation forms provided in this booklet need to be completed within 30 days before your baby’s due date. Completed forms should be mailed, using the enclosed postage-paid envelope. This will notify the Upstate Cord Blood Bank staff of your intention to donate.
Unfortunately, cord blood donation is not a standard of care in New York State, as it is in many parts of the Unites States and in other countries. Because of this, women are may be unaware of their right to preserve or donate their child’s cord blood.
Crowded waiting rooms and busy physicians are all too common in today’s medical world. In this environment, cord blood information is seldom a priority for physicians. Many physicians may not be well-versed in the benefits of cord blood preservation and research.
There is no cost to you or your insurance for donating. The cost of processing, testing, and storing the cord blood is covered by the Upstate Cord Blood Bank.
The identity of the cord blood donor is kept confidential at the cord blood bank and information is never exchanged.