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Journey to Parenthood

Debunking 3 Myths About Cord Blood Banking

Photo: Courtesy of Save The Cord Foundation

1. Cord blood is trash with no purpose

Cord blood should not be considered trash. It is rich in valuable stem cells and has a wonderful purpose extending well beyond the birth of your baby. Since 1988, there have been over 35,000 transplants worldwide that demonstrate this point.

Noah Swanson was plagued with chronic ear infections that worried his parents. He was just a baby, but his symptoms quickly evolved. Following an afebrile seizure, doctors began a long series of tests. Months went by and ultimately Noah was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). MDS is sometimes referred to as “bone marrow failure disorder,” and in Noah’s case it was serious. He needed a stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, doctors could not find a bone marrow donor who matched. They turned to cord blood and it saved Noah’s life. Now, Noah is an active seven-year-old thanks to a public cord blood donation from a family he will probably never meet.

2. Cord blood donations can be arranged the day-of

Cord blood donations must be planned well in advance. As young mothers discuss birth plans with their doctors, the idea of donating or privately banking cord blood rarely comes up. Indeed, public donation programs are very limited and only available in certain hospitals. In addition, many expectant parents do not realize that donating cord blood must be approved months in advance and that both the mother and father must meet certain health criteria. Depending on a family’s medical history, private banking may be recommended and can be arranged closer to the expected due date.

Public and private cord blood banking both have their merits. Regardless of your choice, saving your baby’s cord blood at birth is a wise choice. You could help someone like Noah via public donation or help someone in your own family if you choose private or “family banking.”

3. Cord blood is only being used for research

Cord blood is currently being used to treat more than 80 different diseases, including many blood cancers. Doctors routinely use cord blood to treat sickle cell, leukemia, lymphoma and MDS, to name a few. Meanwhile, promising research using cord blood in the emerging field of regenerative medicine is giving new hope to those who suffer from diabetes, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, autism and more.

On November 15, the cord blood community will come together to celebrate World Cord Blood Day. 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 researchers, transplant specialists and cord blood recipients 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.

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