Having donated bone marrow this past January, and then undergoing apheresis in June for the same patient, I make it a habit to keep up with the happenings of the National Marrow Donor Program (Be The Match). I recently heard about a program they are sponsoring, wherein parents can donate umbilical cord blood. It doesn't involve any extraction from the baby, just from the cord. The blood from the umbilical cord is collected after the baby's birth and donated to a public cord blood bank to help someone with a life-threatening disease. Umbilical cord blood can be used in transplants for patients battling diseases like leukemia and lymphoma, just like bone marrow can. Considering the cord would normally be thrown away, why not make it useful? It could save someone's life. There is no cost to you, because public cord blood banks take care of the collection, testing, and storage.
The NMDP website lists the steps necessary to donate in more detail, but here they are in a nutshell:
- Discuss your decision to donate with your doctor.
- Find out if your hospital collects cord blood donations.
- Contact the public cord blood bank partnered with your hospital and fill out their consent and eligibility forms
That's it. They take care of the rest. Nothing is done differently as it pertains to your labor and delivery. (The website also details your options if you don't see your hospital on their list). If you need more convincing, read this boy's story. If you want to find out more information about donating umbilical cord blood, it can all be found here. Whenever the time comes for Meezy and I to start a family, I will definitely pursue this.