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Donating umbilical cord blood offers hope

Physicians at the University of Minnesota handle a bag of cord blood.

Once routinely discarded as medical waste, today the stem-cell rich blood from childbirth found in both the placenta and umbilical cord is being used to treat an array of medical conditions.

In the past, patients in need of a transplant had little or no options for obtaining stem cells. Now, if the cord blood is a “match,” doctors can use the cells for people who need blood and marrow transplants, even those with rare human leukocyte antigen (HLA) types.

Donating cord blood is fairly simple option for parents and completely harmless to the mother and child.

Here are some key steps in the process:

Before birth

  • Parents should inform their doctor or midwife about their decision approximately three months before their baby is due.
  • Find out if donation is an option at your hospital.
  • Contact the public cord bank that works with your hospital. Though each has their own verification process, they will most likely make sure you meet basic guidelines. After meeting basic health requirements, they will have you complete necessary family health history forms, identify the type of delivery and sign a consent form to donate.

At the hospital

  • Upon arrival, inform the delivery team you are donating umbilical cord blood.
  • Shortly after the baby is born, the cord blood is collected and given an identification number and delivered to the public cord blood bank.

If you plan on donating in the Minnesota region, The University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview offers the option to donate and played a key role in establishing the Midwest’s first public umbilical blood bank with the American Red Cross.

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