Donation and Banking of Umbilical Cord Blood

A number of organizations encourage pregnant patients to consider donating or banking umbilical cord blood. Collection of cord blood is a painless procedure that does not interfere with the birth or with mother and child bonding following the delivery. There is no risk to either mother or baby. Cord blood collection requires no blood center staff to be present during the baby’s delivery.

What is cord blood?
• “Cord blood” is the blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta after the birth of a baby. About two cups of cord blood can be collected from each placenta.
• Cord blood is rich in stem cells, which are the “parent” cells of all blood cells. These cells are found in the bone marrow of adults and in the circulatory system of infants. Cord blood stem cells can be used in place of bone marrow stem cells when a matching bone marrow donor cannot be found. Once transplanted they migrate to the bone marrow, where they begin creating healthy blood cells. This enables the recipient to reconstitute their immune system.
• For reasons not completely understood, patients are less likely to reject stem cells from cord blood than stem cells from adult bone marrow. This may be related to the immaturity of the cord blood stem cells.
• Cord blood transplants are typically used to treat blood diseases such as leukemia and aplastic anemias, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, immune deficiency disorders, and bone marrow failure. In addition, stem cells can be used to help patients with other life-threatening diseases and research is ongoing.

What should I do if I am interested in storing my baby’s cord blood?
At this time Newton-Wellesley Hospital does not collect cord blood for public donation. We recommend discussing your interest with your physician, midwife, primary care physician, or pediatrician.