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The words “cord blood” may not mean very much to you, but for some patients, those two words may mean the difference between life and death.

Right now, you may be asking yourself “what is cord blood?”
Cord blood is blood that is left in the umbilical cord and placenta after the birth of a baby. The umbilical cord and placenta are usually discarded after a baby is born.

This special blood is a rich source of stem cells which can treat a number of illnesses and life threatening diseases.

Now you may be thinking “wait, aren’t stem cells tiny embryo’s?”
The types of stem cells that are found in cord blood are not the same as embryonic stem cells. These stem cells are simply in the blood of the placenta and umbilical cord and are typically disposed of after birth. These cells have proven to be life saving in the face of several diseases and illnesses such as leukemia, lymphoma and disorders of the immune system, just to name a few. This program is not controversial and is supported by many faith based communities because of the difference in the type of stem cell.

St. David’s Medical Center in downtown Austin is the only facility in the city currently offering free cord blood collection and donation. Until now, the only option for cord blood collection was through a private bank that requires a fee for collection and storage. Cord blood that is collected and donated may be used to treat someone who is a match with a life threatening disease such as leukemia, aplastic anemia or genetic blood disorders like sickle cell anemia.

Here’s a snapshot at the process of cord blood donation:

  • Receive information about cord blood collection and donation from your doctor during your prenatal visits.
  • Discuss screening done for all cord blood donors with your doctor. Most healthy moms are able to donate, but there are some common reasons you may not be able to donate such as a twin pregnancy.
  • Decide if participation in this program is right for you and your family.
  • Instead of discarding your umbilical cord and placenta after delivery, your baby’s cord blood will be collected by your physician after the baby is born. This process does not pose a risk to you or your baby, and it not painful to you in any way at all. Once the cord blood is collected, the placenta and umbilical cord are disposed of per Texas law.

The decision to collect and donate cord blood is personal for each and every family. Your options include – storing your cord blood at a private bank, donating and storing your cord blood to a public bank, or discarding the cord blood after delivery. Understanding those options may help you choose whether you would like to be a cord blood donor.

You may never know if someone’s life could be saved by the use of this special blood, but how special is the thought that you may be giving a child a second chance at life or helping a child live a normal, healthy life!

For more information about donating cord blood, please check out Texas Cord Blood Bank’s website at:
http://www.bloodntissue.org.

*All information used with the permission of Texas Cord Blood Bank.

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