Donating Cord Blood: The Gift of Life

How to Donate Cord Blood

New awareness campaigns are encouraging parents to donate these potentially lifesaving cells, and there is a particular need for donations by parents of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. The National Marrow Donor Program's goal is to add an additional 150,000 units to the national inventory.

Parents have only been able to donate their baby's cord blood to a public bank if they deliver at one of about 200 hospitals that have an affiliation with a local public bank. (To see if your hospital is on the list, go to bethematch.org/cord. You must contact your doctor before your 34th week of pregnancy.) However, a new pilot program -- at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina; the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston; and the Texas Cord Blood Bank, in San Antonio -- is providing a special free mail-in kit for parents anywhere who want to work with their doctor to donate their baby's cord blood. For information, call 1-800-627-7692 at least six weeks before your baby is due.

In addition, through Cord Blood Registry's Designated Treatment Program, families who have an older child with a life-threatening disease that is treatable by donor cells can store their newborn's cord blood for free in a private bank. Go to cordblood.com for more information.

Originally published in the August 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

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