Cord Blood Donation

What is cord blood?

After the birth of a baby, the blood remaining in a portion of the umbilical cord and placenta is called placental blood or umbilical cord blood, or simply “cord blood.” This extra blood is not needed by the baby. All normal elements of blood–red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma–are contained in cord blood. It is also rich in hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells, like those found in bone marrow. Cord blood can be used for transplantation instead of bone marrow because it does not have to match a patient’s tissue type as closely as bone marrow does. Stem cells found in cord blood have been used to treat more than 40 diseases. Some of these are sickle cell anemia, leukemia, and cancer–just to name a few.

Immediately after a baby’s birth, before the placenta has been delivered, cord blood is collected. The blood is taken from the cord only after it has been clamped and cut, so there is no risk to the baby or the mother. In the past, umbilical cords and placental tissue were just discarded as medical waste. Now parents can choose to preserve this material for the potential benefit of their own family, members of the community, or the public in general.

Steps to cord blood donation

If you are delivering at Bryn Mawr Hospital or Lankenau Medical Center in the Philadelphia area, these are the steps that you will go through to donate your baby’s umbilical cord blood for free. If you are delivering elsewhere, the resources at right will help you determine your options.
Step 1
At some point between 18 and 32 weeks, you MUST pre-register. You have 2 options – fill out the pre-registration form on this site – click here – OR call 866.SAV.CORD and pre-register with a cord blood coordinator at Community Blood Services.
Step 2
CBS will then send you a health questionnaire. This questionnaire will take you approximately 15 to 30 minutes to complete. You will be asked personal information such as demographic data, health history, and family genetic history. This is necessary to help evaluate the suitability of the cord blood unit for transplant. Please fill out the questionnaire as soon as you receive it and send back to CBS right away.
Step 3
The medical advisors at Community Blood Services will review your health questionnaire. If they have any questions, they will call you. Make sure that you call them back right away. IF you have to leave a message, tell them the best time to reach you to minimize any potential communication issues.
Step 4
After it is determined that you are qualified to donate (based on your questionnaire), you will be sent your cord blood donation delivery paperwork. Put it with your insurance card in your purse so that you remember to bring it with you to the hospital. You DO NOT have to fill out this paperwork before you get to the hospital, most of it is for the nurse and doctor to fill out after you have the baby.
You MUST be at least 34 weeks pregnant to donate. Also – this paperwork MUST be taken with you to the hospital for you to be able to complete the process and donate your baby’s umbilical cord blood.
We now have all donation cord blood collection kits stored at the hospital, however as noted above, if you are not at least 34 weeks pregnant and if you do not have your paperwork, they will not be able to collect.
IF at any point during steps 1 – 4 you have questions or encounter problems with the process, contact us either contact us by email OR by phone at 610-394-0109.
Step 5
Inform your doctor that you are donating your baby’s cord blood through The Mason Shaffer Public Cord Blood Program so they can note it in your chart.
Step 6
When you get to the hospital, tell the nurse that you are donating your baby’s cord blood, they will know what to do with it from there! Mom’s blood will also be obtained for testing purposes, within 48 hours of your delivery; it normally happens around the time of the cord blood collection.
Step 7
Have a wonderful labor, a beautiful baby, and enjoy your family’s special day!