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The decision to donate cord blood can help save lives

Becoming a new mother is an incredible experience, whether it’s your first or fourth time. Among the many decisions you and your family will make during this journey is the opportunity to help save a life through the donation of your baby’s cord blood.

Cord blood is the blood that is left over from the umbilical cord and the placenta after giving birth. This blood is rich in stem cells and has been proven to aid in treating cancers like leukemia or lymphoma.

Instead of having the blood discarded after your baby’s birth, you and your family can choose to have this blood collected and placed into a public bank, where doctors can use it in the future to help treat those with serious, life-threatening diseases. You can also choose to have the cord blood stored privately, where it’s available to use by your family, if the need ever arises.

If your baby’s cord blood is unable to be used for transplant, it may be used for important research studies.

Certainly this may seem like a significant decision to make, but it is quite a simple process.

You may wonder if donating cord blood affects your birthing process. The answer to this is no. Immediately following the birth of your baby, the umbilical cord is cut and clamped. After the placenta is delivered, a staff member will collect the placenta and umbilical cord, and the blood will be collected from both. There is no blood taken from you or your baby at any time. The collection is non-invasive and completely safe for you and your baby.

Another question you and your family may have is in regards to the cost of this program. There is no cost for you or your insurance company if you choose to donate the cord blood. The only time you will face a fee is if you choose to have your cord blood stored privately.

If you are interested in learning more about the process of donating your baby’s cord blood, it’s important to first speak with your OB-GYN team about your interest in donating, and ask if the hospital where you will be delivering accepts cord blood donations.

Mount Nittany Medical Center is a participating facility in the Dan Berger Cord Blood Program, where the cord blood is collected and couriered to the associated public cord blood bank located in Chicago.

When the blood arrives at the bank, it is examined to make sure it has the correct amount of blood-forming cells necessary for a transplant. The blood is also checked for any contaminants before it is frozen and made available for use.

Because you have much to think about in preparing for the birth of your baby, it is recommended that you talk with your healthcare team about your decision to donate about three months before your baby is due. Most women who are generally healthy are eligible to donate.

To learn more about the option of cord blood donation, visit mountnittany.org.

Theodore Hovick, Jr. is an OB-GYN physican at Mount Nittany Physician Group.

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