Reasons to bank cord blood

Birth is a one-time opportunity to help society by donating your baby’s cord blood.   Cord blood contains stem cells that can save lives.   Patients requiring a stem cell transplant can receive stem cells from one of three sources: bone marrow, circulating blood, or cord blood.   The first two exist in all healthy adults, but cord blood can only be harvested and stored at birth.   It is much easier to match transplant patients with cord blood than with the two sources of adult donors.   This is important for patients who come from minority or mixed race backgrounds.  Hence, diverse cord blood donations to public banks can save many lives right now.

Birth is also a one-time opportunity to store your baby’s cord blood for your own family. Transplant patients recover better when they receive stem cells from a related donor, instead of an unrelated donor.   If a first degree relative of your baby needs a stem cell transplant, the baby’s cord blood stem cells could be a suitable match.  Plus, there are now emerging therapies in which children use their own cord blood stem cells to help the body repair itself. In the future, children whose parents saved their cord blood will have better access to those treatments.

There is virtually no reason not to save your child’s cord blood. Some people are concerned that the clamping of the umbilical cord should be delayed so that the baby can receive the blood in the cord. Studies have shown that babies whose cord clamping was delayed by two minutes have slightly less anemia up to six months after birth. However, there is no benefit to waiting more than two minutes to clamp the cord and collect the cord blood.

Role of cord blood in transplants by patient race:courtesy of NMDP as of FY2011

Benefits of cord blood transplants

How donor-patient matching is determined

  • – We all get half of our genetic material from each parent.    Only a few genes, those that determine  HLA type,  are important to match a patient with a donor.
  • – The genes that are important for matching tend to be inherited as a group (called a haplotype).    As a result, two children of the same parents have a 25% chance of being a perfect match to each other.
  • – Genetic variations are also grouped by race.    Hence, a patient has a better chance of finding a donor among his or her own racial group.
Cord blood transplants do not have to be an exact match About 70% of patients who need a stem cell transplant do not have a matching donor in their own family.  The cord blood donated to public banks helps these patients to find a matching donor. Whereas a bone marrow transplant requires a patient-donor match of 6 out of 6 or 100%, studies find that cord blood transplants are just as successful with a patient-donor match of 4 out of 6 or 67%.In the United States the national Be The Match Registry® run by  NMDP puts an emphasis on  recruiting cord blood donations from racial minorities.

Where do I go to store my baby’s cord blood?

  1. If you wish to donate your child’s cord blood, see how to donate cord blood.
  2. You can also   find a family bank by country. Once you have the list for your country, you can compare all banks by one feature, do a split screen comparison of two banks, or  call up a summary of price options (for example:  USA price options). Most family banks offer payment plans.
  3. There are charitable programs that offer   help for families in need of a stem cell transplant for an immediate relative of the baby.


* Contents are from The Parents Guide to Cord Blood Foundation website for information purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.