Family (private) cord blood banking and public cord blood donation have been in existence for more than 25 years. During that time, there have been more than 35,000 cord blood transplants worldwide. However, many expectant parents know very little about this medical resource which is too often thrown away as medical waste. Here are 8 things you did not know about cord blood:

1. It provides access to stem cells

Cord blood is a rich, non-controversial source of life-saving stem cells.

2. Retrieval is simple

Cord blood stem cells are easily obtained at the time of a child’s birth.

3. The process happens post-birth

Collecting umbilical cord blood does not harm the mother or child, and does not interfere with the birthing process. Collection is done after the birth.

4. It has disease-fighting potential

Cord blood is currently used to treat more than 80 deadly diseases including sickle cell anemia, lymphoma and leukemia.

5. It holds great promise

Based on recent clinical trials and research, there is great promise in the field of regenerative medicine using a child’s own cord blood to potentially treat cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, type one juvenile diabetes, autism and more.

6. It’s a readily available resource

Unlike bone marrow, cord blood is readily available when needed if collected and saved at birth.

7. You have banking choice

Cord blood stem cells are collected in public, private and hybrid banks worldwide.

8. It offers singular hope

A cord blood transplant is often the only hope for treatment for certain patients.

For expectant parents, understanding how to save their baby’s cord blood at birth is not an easy task. Sadly, most hospitals still do not offer public banking. Hybrid banks try to fill the gap in areas where public programs do not exist currently, while private cord blood banking remains an option for many.

The point here is simple. Be proactive and learn about your options. You should also consider your family’s medical history. Speak with your doctor, as in some cases he/she may recommend private banking over donation, if there is a potential need for your family.

On Nov. 15 2017, the cord blood community will come together to celebrate World Cord Blood Day (#WCBD17). Common myths and misunderstandings about cord blood banking will be addressed directly during this online event (free and open to the public). In addition, a series of webinars led by cord blood experts, researchers and transplant specialists will give expectant parents and health professionals an opportunity to discuss how cord blood is changing the face of medicine. If you are expecting a child, please put this date on your “Journey to Parenthood” calendar.