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Public Cord Blood Banking

Once your baby is born, you have three options for the potentially lifesaving cord blood that is rich with stem cells:

  1. Discard it.
  2. Donate it to a public cord blood bank.
  3. Store it in a private cord blood bank for your own family’s use.

What Is Public Cord Blood Banking?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Medical Association (AMA) recommend public cord blood banking. Donating cord blood to a public cord blood bank is free and makes the stem cells available for anyone who needs them. The donated cord blood is tissue typed and added to a public database, where it is visible for any hospital facility to request it if they have a need.

If you are interested in public cord blood donation, in general you should contact the bank before the 34th week of pregnancy. Once the blood is donated, it will be tested for genetic abnormalities and infectious diseases, and if any are found, you will be notified. After this, the cord blood loses all identifying information and cannot be reserved for your family’s use.

Donating cord blood to a public bank makes potentially lifesaving stem cells available for people with diseases such as leukemia and sickle cell disease who are in need of transplants. To protect the health of patients who may receive donated cord blood, the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP) Network of cord blood banks has strict quality standards for cord blood units to be stored and listed on the NMDP's Be The Match Registry® for patients in need of a transplant.

Public Cord Blood Banking Eligibility

To be eligible to donate cord blood, a cord blood bank reviews your health history and includes questions about the following areas, as well as other health-related questions:

  • Age: Cord blood donors must usually be 18 or older and in good health.
  • HIV/AIDS: If you have or are at risk, you cannot be a cord blood donor.
  • Cancer: Most forms of cancer make you ineligible to donate cord blood. You may still be eligible if you had cured local skin cancer (simple basal or squamous cell) or cervical cancer.
  • Diabetes: You may not be eligible to donate if you have medication-dependent diabetes.
  • Hepatitis: If you have positive hepatitis B surface antigen or hepatitis C, you are not eligible to donate. A cord blood bank will evaluate your eligibility for any other history of hepatitis.
  • Malaria: You may still be eligible if you had malaria more than three years ago or a full course of malarial drugs more than six months ago.
  • Organ or tissue transplant: You are not eligible to be a cord blood donor if you received a heart, lung, kidney, bone marrow or other organ or tissue transplant within the last 12 months.
  • STDs: The cord blood bank will evaluate any history of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Tattoos and piercings: The cord blood bank will evaluate any history of tattoos or ear piercings.

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