Cord Blood Resources
Mary Halet, manager of the cord blood program of the National Marrow Donor Program (MDP), answers common questions:
- How many public cord blood banks are there?
There are 18 public cord blood banks in the U.S.
- Where does this blood come from?
Public banks work with individual hospitals. Women who give birth there are asked if they would be willing to donate their baby's cord blood, which would otherwise be discarded.
- If you donate your baby's blood and a family member needs it, can you get it back?
If no one else has used it, yes.
- Why aren't more hospitals participating?
Collecting, analyzing, and storing the cord blood is expensive.
- How do doctors get access to the blood?
The MDP acts as a clearinghouse for 13 of those public banks. So if a doctor associated with a transplant center needs cord blood to treat someone, she can use a computerized system to scan the inventory of those 13 banks to see what match is available. She would have to contact the other banks individually.
- What if there isn't a perfect match?
While a perfect match is ideal, lots of people have achieved good outcomes with a close match. To increase the odds of getting a perfect match, public banks are hoping for federal funding to support the acquisition of more cord blood. Public banks are also looking to diversify their ethnic registry by encouraging more minorities to donate.
If you do opt to bank your baby's cord blood, choose a bank accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks. Go to www.aabb.org for more information.
Lorie A. Parch is a writer in Gold Canyon, Arizona.