Cord Blood Banking

Cord Blood Banking

Cord blood banking involves collecting blood that is drawn from the umbilical cord and the placenta after a baby is born.  Cord blood that is not being banked is usually discarded as medical waste.

Cord blood contains potentially lifesaving cells called stem cells. These cells are the building blocks of the blood and immune system. Stem cells have the ability to develop into other types of cells. They can help repair tissues, organs, and blood vessels and can be used to treat a host of diseases. They are currently most commonly used in bone marrow transplants. Because they are immature cells, they are usually better accepted by the immune system and less likely to be rejected. Cord blood has been used successfully to treat more than 70 different diseases, including some cancers, blood disorders, and immune deficiencies. Among these are leukemia, sickle cell anemia, aplastic anemia, thalassemia, and lymphoma.

Collecting cord blood is simple, painless and safe for you and your baby.  It is usually collected by your obstetrical provider immediately after you’ve delivered your baby, either vaginally or by cesarean section. The cord is clamped and cut, and then a needle is inserted into the umbilical vein on the part of the cord that’s still attached to the placenta.  The blood either drips into a bag or is pulled out with a syringe. Typically, 3 to 5 ounces are collected. The process is usually done while the provider is waiting for delivery of the placenta, or afterbirth.  The blood is shipped to a cord blood bank, where it’s tested, processed, and frozen for long-term storage.

Cord blood can either be donated to a public bank or stored privately for the family. A public cord blood bank is similar to a blood bank. Cord blood is donated and available for use to anyone who needs it and is a “match.” Public banks do not charge for cord blood collection or storage. Private cord blood banks store cord blood for donation directly for your baby or other family members. Private banks usually charge for collection and there is a yearly fee for storage.

If you’d like to donate your child’s umbilical cord blood, talk to your obstetrical provider or contact the hospital or birthing center where your baby will be born. It’s best to start this process early in your second trimester to give yourself plenty of time to register for this service.

For further information or to schedule an appointment, please call our Maternal Fetal Care Center at (414) 805-6624.