Donating umbilical cord blood
Traditionally, umbilical cord blood has been discarded as medical waste. In recent years, mothers also have had the option to bank their cord blood for family use – at a cost.
Now thanks to California’s new Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program, mothers can donate their newborns' umbilical cord blood for public use in lifesaving transplantations or research.
There is no cost to participate in the collection program. Donating is easy and painless, and can be arranged ahead of time.
The video and Frequently Asked Questions on this page provide an overview of the program and its importance. The video will introduce you to a mother who has participated. If you have trouble viewing the video in the player, you can also click here to view it on YouTube.
Frequently asked questions
Is donating cord blood safe?
Yes. There is no risk to mother or baby when cord blood is collected. After the doctor is finished examining the placenta, the cord blood is either collected by the doctor or given to a cord blood collection specialist.
Does it hurt?
No, the cord blood collection process is done after the umbilical cord is detached from baby and the placenta is delivered.
What will I need to do during delivery that's different from other moms? Will this change my delivery plan?
Mother does not need to worry about anything except for signing the consent. The doctor and nurses are aware the mother is a donor and works directly with collector. The mother's delivery plan is not altered.
Where does my baby's cord blood go?
After collection, your baby's cord blood is processed and assessed to see whether it meets the criteria for public banking. Processing the blood requires counting the cells and weighing the volume. If your baby's cord blood unit does not have enough cells for banking, it is either given to a qualified researcher working with cord blood or is safely disposed of. The California Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program is not a cord blood bank itself, but collects cord blood for public banks.
Does the cord blood have to be immediately frozen to preserve it?
The cells in the cord blood are viable for approximately 36 hours. The unit should be delivered to the cord blood bank during that timeframe for it to be processed and frozen.
Can I change my mind?
If you change your mind before the blood is collected, just let your doctor or the collection specialist know and we will not collect.
Can I get access to my cord blood once it is stored?
No. Each cord blood unit is de-identified once it is stored in the bank. However, by donating cord blood you improve everyone’s chances of finding a match in the public registry and obtaining the healthy cells they need.
How to donate
If you would like to donate, follow these easy steps:
1. Call or email our offices to find out if your hospital is part of the statewide collection program
2. Our staff is available at 844-734-CORD (2673), 916-703-9316 or firstname.lastname@example.org during regular business hours
3. We will talk to you about your next steps in the donation process and how we can help
4. If your cord is collected and qualifies for public banking, we will administer a follow-up maternal questionnaire and blood draw for screening purposes
For more information or any additional questions at all that you may have, please don't hesitate to contact one of our friendly staff members. We welcome your questions!