Between your 28th and 34th week of pregnancy
- Approximately three months before your baby is due, talk with your doctor or midwife about your decision to donate umbilical cord blood.
- If you are betwen your 28th and 34th week of pregnancy, learn if you meet cord blood donation guidelines by answering these basic questions about your pregnancy and health. If you have not reached your 28th week of pregnancy, please revisit the Be The Match website when you have reached your 28th week.
- If you meet donation guidelines, you can check the list of hospitals that collect cord blood for a public cord blood bank. If your hospital is listed, contact the cord blood bank that works with your hospital for further evaluation and more information.
If your hospital is not listed, Be The Match can send your information to a cord blood bank that may be able to send you a cord blood collection kit. However, due to limited capacity, not all of those who meet basic guidelines will be able to donate. Learn if you can donate.
- Donated cord blood units listed on the Be The Match Registry may be used in research related to cord blood and the use of the cord blood in transplant.
While you are in the hospital
- When you arrive at the hospital, tell the labor and delivery team you are donating umbilical cord blood. (Note: it can be helpful for the expectant parents to have another responsible adult assist with paperwork, etc.)
- While you are giving birth, everyone will be focused on you and your baby.
- After your baby is delivered:
- The umbilical cord is clamped.
- Blood from the umbilical cord and placenta is collected into a sterile bag either before or after the placenta is delivered, depending upon hospital procedures. The collected cord blood, called a cord blood unit, is given an identification number and stored temporarily. (The cord blood unit averages between 1/3 to a little over 1/2 cup or 90-150 cc.)
- Usually the day after your baby is born, you will be asked for a sample of your blood to be tested for infectious diseases. This blood is taken from you only, not your baby.
- Shortly after your baby’s birth, the cord blood unit is delivered to the public cord blood bank. Keep a copy of the consent form in case you need to contact the cord blood bank at a later date.
What happens at the cord blood bank?
After the cord blood unit arrives at the cord blood bank, it is:
- Checked to be sure it has enough blood-forming cells for a transplant. (If there are too few cells, the cord blood unit may be used for research related to cord blood and the use of cord blood in transplant.)
- Tested to be sure it is free from contamination.
- Tissue typed and listed on the Be The Match Registry, a listing of potential marrow donors and cord blood units available for patients in need of transplant. To protect your family’s privacy, the cord blood is identified by a number, never by name.
- Frozen in a liquid nitrogen freezer and stored.
Once it is stored, it is available for a transplant if a patient needs it. Doctors search among the donated cord blood units and the bone marrow donors on the Be The Match Registry to find a match when their patient needs a transplant.
Still have questions?
See the Cord Blood FAQs. Or call us. In the United States, call toll-free: 1 (800) MARROW2 (1-800-627-7692). Outside the United States, call (612) 627-5800 and once connected, dial 0 for the operator.