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April 5, 2011

Umbilical Cord Blood Donation

I mentioned here that I didn't think much about the mechanics of becoming a mother the first time around.  And I also mentioned that I probably wouldn't change that much about my experience.  One thing I would change, though, if i had the opportunity for a do-over is I would have donated every one of my babies' cord blood.

Umbilical Cord blood is rich in adult stem cells that can be used for cures.  There is a documented successful treatment of Cerebral Palsy with Umbilical Cord Blood.  And there is an official Cure of Leukemia using Umbilical Cord blood.  

I first heard about Umbilical Cord Donation in 2005. I fully intended to donate Helen's Umbilical Cord blood.  When I inquired when I was 33 weeks pregnant, I found out I was too late.  The paperwork needed to be submitted by 28 weeks at the time.  I was very sad.

When pregnant with Dominic, I got on it and got my paperwork in by the deadline (which was now 32 weeks).  When Dominic was born it took only a minute or two for my doctor to collect the Umbilical Cord Blood and we called the courier to come and get it.  I was so happy that we did that.

I'm a big proponent of Umbilical Cord Blood donation.  However, there is the opportunity for people to bank their children's Umbilical Cord Blood for use later.  It wasn't something I ever considered, but it is an alternative.  It's pretty pricey.  I would imagine it is very beneficial should your child or his sibling be diagnosed with a disease.  However, it's risky because you could pay all sorts of money to bank your child's Umbilical Cord Blood only to find out it's not a match should you need it for your child or a sibling.  Then you are still in the same boat as if you hadn't paid the money to bank it.

This is why I'm big on the Donation aspect.  There's no guarantee if you pay a lot of money to bank your baby's Umbilical Cord blood that you will need it or it will meet your need.  But if you donate it, it could meet the needs of someone else.  And what a blessing!

Donating Umbilical Cord Blood requires a lot of paperwork.  We have gone through Cryobanks Intl.  We fill out their donation paperwork (and...no lie, it's extensive) and I have my doctor fill out and sign his part and send it off.  They mail you a collection kit with instructions on how to notify them that you're going into labor and they work with couriers to come to the hospital within an hour or two of collection and obtain the donation and get it to their network in time to be stored.  And none of this costs you anything!

It is amazing when I think about it that cures for some terrible diseases could come from something as simple as the blood that runs through the Umbilical Cord while the baby is growing in his mother's womb!  Isn't that just like God, though?  To provide for us in the most simple, and humble place, the powerful thing which we need?  And the best part of all is that no one is giving up life to provide this powerful thing (the way embryos are sacrificed for Embryonic Stem Cell Research).  In a very real way, LIFE is affirmed for us through the cures obtained with the use of donated Umbilical Cord blood.

If you're still of child-bearing age and you have another child, I highly encourage you to look into Umbilical Cord Blood donation.  It's some paperwork and a little inconvenience, but if it's not donated, it's simply discarded in the "clean up" after the birth of your baby.  And there are so many rich, useful adult stem cells in the blood, it seems quite a shame to waste it.

6 comments:

  1. I really wanted to do this with Joe's birth, but got too lazy to get around to getting any paper work. I will definitely try and get it done with future pregnancies!

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  2. I'm curious as to when they collect it? I've read it's beneficial for baby to not have the cord clamped and cut until the cord stops pulsing, allowing them to get more blood from the placenta and cord. So to donate the blood does it need to be clamped right away?

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  3. Alison - it depends on who you read. My doctor, who is 100% pro-life pro-NFP (i.e., refuses to prescribe artificial birth control or perform sterilizations) and is supportive of natural childbirth is VERY supportive of Umbilical Cord Blood Donation and says it does not harm the baby to clamp the cord and collect the blood. And I believe him. I know there are probably others who would disagree, who are really pro- keeping the cord unclamped, etc...but I think it's well worth the donation to help keep an abundance of Umbilical Cord Blood adult stem cells available and reduce the need or desire to rely on Embryonic Stem Cells. All four of my babies' cords have been clamped and cut immediately and have not suffered any ill effects. But that's my experience. Everyone has to go with their own comfort level.

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  4. What a great example of being thoroughly pro-life :)

    We didn't want to do this with Miriam, as we planned to not cut the cord until it stopped pulsing, as Alison alluded to. Then our doctor was a bit of a jerk and wouldn't wait (and yes, I know it was something we should have had the final say in) - so now I kind of wish we had donated, since it wasn't used for anyone!

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  5. As you already know, I think this is great! I think that it is wonderful that you were and are willing to do the paperwork. who knows whose life you may have helped save?

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  6. Oh, I'm not saying that by clamping right away the baby is going to be hurt or suffer for it, I was just curious. I've also read that allowing the blood to flow back into the baby really helps the placenta detach. I just know I've read horror stories of women having to get their placenta scraped out when it didn't detach completely.

    I suppose it's like a lot of things, there's really not one right way of doing it.

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Thank you for reading. I enjoy reading other perspectives, please feel free to share yours. :)