What is cord blood donation?

Lab technician holding a tube in a laboratory Lab technician holding a tube in a laboratory
Wisconsin is one of 28 states requiring health care providers to inform patients about umbilical cord blood donation. Donating umbilical cord blood can give hope to someone in need.

In the past, when a baby was born, the umbilical cord blood was thrown away. Today, blood from the umbilical cord can be collected after your baby’s birth and donated to a public cord blood bank to help someone with a life-threatening disease.

If you choose to donate umbilical cord blood, your labor and delivery will not be affected. No blood is taken from your baby, only from the umbilical cord itself after your baby is born. 

What is cord blood?

The blood remaining in the umbilical cord after a baby is born contains blood-forming stem cells.

These cells can be used to treat many life-threatening diseases, and researchers continue to explore new medical applications. Stem cells also can be collected from bone marrow or the blood stream, but cord blood has advantages.
  • Cord collection is painless and harmless.
  • Cord blood stem cells do not have to be a perfect match between donor and recipient.
  • Cord blood collection samples are small, but they contain a high concentration of blood-forming cells.
  • Cord blood stem cells are more adaptable to their new environment when used in transplant, compared to stem cells from other sources.

How do we donate cord blood?

Donating the umbilical cord is an option for parents to consider. A collection kit is needed in advance and there are various companies that provide collection kits.

Arrangements should be made to receive a free collection kit and return shipping should also be pre-paid by the company. The offer to donate should be of no cost to you, your health insurance provider or the hospital at which you deliver (for collection or storage).

Please note this is different than cord blood banking for your child, which has a charge.