New Moms Can Help Others through Umbilical Cord Blood Donations
By Madison Lyleroehr
The role of a mother’s umbilical cord is typically complete at the end of birth. However, the blood located in the umbilical cord has been found to contain a wealth of stem cells, which are extremely valuable because of their regenerative properties. The presence of these stem cells has enabled the use of umbilical cord blood (UCB) donations in treating an increasing range of diseases, including some rare genetic conditions.
Not only can UCB stem cells be used in a variety of treatments, but collecting them is much less difficult than other sources of stem cells, such as bone marrow. Because the umbilical cord is generally expelled during the birth process, UCB collection is non-invasive, does not interfere with the birthing process, or pose additional risks to the mother or baby during birth. Furthermore, because the population of women having babies is so diverse, the collection of UCB increases the potential number of matches for patients in need of stem cell donations.
For expectant families who are interested in exploring UCB donation, various options are available. First, mothers can choose to bank their own cord blood in case close family members, such as the babies from whom the UCB was donated or their siblings, are diagnosed with a condition that can be helped by the stem cells. This option generally includes fees for processing and storage. Another option is to donate the blood publically to help others who may find themselves in need of a stem cell treatment. Families who are considering either option should begin the conversation early enough in pregnancy to have the time to consider all options and research the collection option they choose.
For more information on UCB donation, go to https://bethematch.org/support-the-cause/donate-cord-blood/.
Butler, Madelyn. “Best practices: umbilical cord blood and tissue preservation: tips for patient counseling.” OB GYN News, Aug. 2017, p. 7.
Martin, Paul L., et al. “Umbilical cord blood: a guide for primary care physicians.” American Family Physician, 15 Sept. 2011, p. 661+.