UMBILICAL CORD BLOOD DONATION

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In 2006, Health General Article §19-308.7, Annotated Code was enacted, this law required the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in collaboration with key stakeholders, to develop educational materials concerning the values, uses, and donation of umbilical cord blood for obstetricians and hospitals with obstetrical services to distribute to their pregnant patients. A brochure was developed for this purpose and is available at no cost to obstetricians and obstetrical hospitals.
The Department’s umbilical cord blood brochure may be obtained in .pdf format on the MCH Publications webpage or by downloading it from here:

Information for Parents to Be About Cord Blood Banking

Questions and Answers about Umbilical Cord Blood

What is Umbilical Cord Blood?
How is Cord Blood Collected?
What is Cord Blood Banking?
How Do I Bank My Baby’s Cord Blood?
What are the Costs?
What are the Benefits of Cord Blood Donation?
Are There Public Cord Blood Banks in Maryland?
Where Can I Find More Information?

What is Umbilical Cord Blood?

Umbilical cord blood or “cord blood” is the blood left in the umbilical cord and placenta after a baby is born.  This blood is usually thrown away. It can be saved and stored in a cord blood bank for use in the future. Cord blood contains stem cells. Stem cells are special cells that can be used to treat certain diseases in children and adults. These diseases include some cancers (leukemia and lymphoma), blood disorders (sickle cell and thalassemia major), and other life-threatening diseases. When stem cells are used to treat a disease, it is called a stem cell transplant.

How is Cord Blood Collected?

Cord blood is collected after the baby is born and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut.  There are no risks to the baby or mother.  At times, however, it may not be possible to collect the cord blood.  This may happen if the delivery becomes complicated. If this happens, the mother’s health care provider may not advise cord blood collection for medical reasons. 
 
 
What is Cord Blood Banking?

Cord blood banking means storing cord blood for future use. You may decide to donate your baby’s cord blood to a public cord blood bank.  This means the cord blood will be available to anyone who needs a stem cell transplant. Donated cord blood becomes the property of the public cord blood bank. Sometimes, stored cord blood does not contain enough stem cells for transplant. When this happens, the cord blood may be used for research or it may be discarded.

You may decide to bank your baby’s cord blood for your own family’s use. This is called private cord blood banking. The cord blood will be saved for your baby or a close family member to use in the future.  Private cord blood banking may be a good idea if you have a family member with certain medical conditions and a stem cell transplant would be a treatment option. In this case, some private cord blood banks may store the cord blood at no cost to the donor.

Cord blood should not be stored as “insurance” for your baby to treat a genetic disease the baby may develop.  In this case it may not be possible to use the cells to treat a disease that the baby gets later in life because the same disease may already be present in the stored stem cells.

How Do I Bank My Baby’s Cord Blood?

If you decide to store your baby’s cord blood, you should contact a cord blood bank as early as possible.  Cord blood banks should be contacted before your 34 th week of pregnancy (six weeks before your due date). The cord blood bank will explain how the cord blood is to be collected, transported, stored, and what else you will need to do to prepare.

The cord blood bank will send you a medical history form, which includes questions about your health and your family health history. You will also receive a consent form that explains what tests will be done on the cord blood.  This form should also tell you how you will be notified if any of the test results are abnormal.  Be sure to read the consent form carefully before signing.

If you are approved by the cord blood bank, a cord blood collection kit will be sent to you.  You must bring the kit with you at the time of delivery. 

It is not a requirement that families donate or store their baby’s umbilical cord blood. The decision to donate or store cord blood is a choice that only parents to be can make. Expectant parents should talk with their health care provider about their decision to donate or store their baby’s cord blood.

What are the Costs?

By Maryland law, a mother who donates her baby’s cord blood for public use may not be charged any fees for collecting, transporting, or storing the umbilical cord blood. 

The cost for private cord blood banking may vary. Private cord blood banks may charge for collection, transportation and annual storage if it is done for personal use. The private bank should be contacted directly for information about fees.

What are the Benefits of Cord Blood Donation?

Donation to a public cord blood bank may help others.  Your baby’s cord blood may be used to provide a stem cell transplant for someone with cancer or another serious medical problem.  Also, some donated cord blood is used in research to study stem cell transplants.  Through research, more patients can be helped in the future.

Are There Public Cord Blood Banks in Maryland?

Currently, there are no public cord blood banks in Maryland. However, there may be public cord blood banks in other states that can help.  Some public cord blood banks may be able to accept donations from Maryland residents.  This may depend on where you live. The National Marrow Donor Program may be able to assist Maryland residents with questions about donating their baby’s cord blood to a public cord blood bank in another state.