Lesson 13: Consider donating your child’s cord blood

I don’t have a terrible amount of information to volunteer on banking your baby’s cord blood. Honestly, I’m still stumped as to whether or not it’s something that needs to be done. On the one hand, if you ever need it, the cost seems pretty minimal for what you get. But on the other, the odds of your child actually requiring his cord blood are pretty minimal. Add that to the fact that you can’t help but wonder if the bank you chose actually stores your child’s blood and stores it properly—and it can seem like a toss up!

So, if you stumbled upon this blog because you’re wondering whether or not you should store your child’s cord blood, I intend to be of no help to you whatsoever. Sorry.

But what I can recommend is that you donate your child’s cord blood. This comes at no cost to you and it’s certain that the blood will be used. Whether the blood is donated to a child in need or used for research, it’s going to good use.

If you’re interested in donating your child’s cord blood talk to your OB. The hospital where I delivered actually did not take cord blood donations at the time, but my doctor was more than happy to collect the cord blood and store it for me, so that I could donate it myself. If your hospital doesn’t take cord blood donations, you can still donate!

Be the Match recommends that you begin talking to your OB about 3 months prior to your due date. I recommend starting much sooner! You have to have your application in by a certain time, it has to be approved, they have to send you your donation kit—it takes time. Get started early.

Before you go too far into the donation process, check out Be the Match’s questionnaire that will help you determine whether or not you’re even eligible to donate cord blood.

If you’re eligible to donate, you can go to Be the Match’s list of participating hospitals and check to see if yours is on the list. If it’s not, like mine wasn’t, you can contact nearby hospitals that are on the list and tell them you’re delivering at a local hospital and would like to donate your child’s cord blood. Or, you can go through a mail-in donation site, like we did. To find a mail-in donation site, check out the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Donation‘s list of North American Cord Blood Donation Sites.

When you find one that can take your donation (not all can because they’re limited on staff, storage and funding), you’ll complete a ton of paperwork, your OB will complete some paperwork, and you’ll have to consent to an HIV test (which you probably already had done anyway when you first found out you were pregnant—it seems like it’s a standard test). They’ll also verify that your delivering doctor knows how to collect cord blood. Finally, if you’re approved (again, they’re limited because of resources and try to keep their donors varied), they’ll send you a kit and you’ll go ahead and put it with your hospital bag for D-day.

Once you arrive at the hospital on D-day, make sure you tell your nurse and/or delivery team that you’ll be donating your child’s cord blood. After your baby is born and the cord is clamped (and yes, if you choose to let the cord finish pulsing before clamping the cord, it’s possible to still donate cord blood–though you probably need to decide which is more important to you because there is the chance that there will not be enough cord blood left to collect after the cord finishes pulsing. Also? Ask your doctor because I only gathered these answers via Dr. Google. This is something we’ll have to ask next time, as letting the cord finish pulsing, unfortunately, wasn’t something that was on our radar with Baby 1, though it will be with Baby 2.), your doctor will then collect the cord blood. The blood will be packaged in a sterile container and a courier will collect it (if you’re donating to a local hospital) or you’ll put it in the mail (if you’re donating via mail-in). It really is that easy.

You guys, cord blood is good stuff. It’s valuable in more ways than people realize. Don’t just throw it away! This is an easy, painless way to help save a life (or lives), and it causes no danger to you or your baby.

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