Last week I posted about Cord Blood Banking. I thought that making the decision whether or not to donate, and whether to donate to a public or private bank was the difficult part of the process. Apparently not. Once I decided I would like to donate to a public bank and potentially save lives, I expected it would be pretty easy. After all, there’s no fee, and it should be as easy as giving blood. Right? Wrong.
Step #1 – First I called my doctor’s office and asked them about the procedure for donating cord blood. They told me to call the hospital where I would be delivering to check with their policy.
Step #2 – I called Mount Auburn, the hospital were I’m going to deliver, and after being transferred 4 times, the conversation went like this:
Her: “We do the collection, but we don’t do anything with shipping the sample once it’s collected. You’ll need to work with an outside company to do that.”
Me: “No problem. Do you have any companies that you generally use for cord blood donation that I could contact?”
Her: “Uhh, no. You can look it up online, though.”
Step #3 – Commence Googling. It’s shocking how challenging it is to find information about DONATING to a PUBLIC bank when the websites are completely dominated by STORING your cord blood with a PRIVATE bank. I found another local hospital’s website (Brigham and Women’s) that advertises that they have a public banking process. Score! I thought. For sure they will take a donation from the next town over, right?
Step #4 – I called Brigham & Women’s. This person was very helpful and said that for now, they only accept donations from babies delivered in their hospital. BUT, she offered me two other phone numbers of companies that may be helpful. One of which was the New England Organ Bank, which collects umbilical cords after birth to be used in scientific research (to use as a last resort if I couldn’t find a public bank to donate to).
Step #5 – I called the other number that the Brigham & Women’s nurse gave me, for Cryobanks International. Success! They offer both public and private banking, so their website was a little confusing for someone looking just to donate, but the woman on the phone directed me to the place on the website where I can download the DONATION forms (after answering some medical questions).
The process: I will fill out the (extensive) forms, have my doctor approve them, and then send them back to Cryobanks prior to my 34th week of pregnancy. Cryobanks will then send me a collection kit that I will bring with me to the hospital when I’m in labor. From what I have read, the labor and delivery is not affected by the decision to donate cord blood, as the doctor can wait until the placenta is fully delivered, and the baby receives the appropriate amount of time with the umbilical cord still intact before cutting it and collecting the sample. After delivery, I will call Cryobanks and let them know I have a sample, and we organize shipping/courier pickup of the sample.
Once I got to the right person, it was easy to figure out how to donate. However, it really shouldn’t be that hard to get to that person. So anyone out there looking to donate who doesn’t know how (if your hospital doesn’t accept donations), check out Cryobanks! They are international, and work directly with your OB to collect the sample. And as far as I can tell, they may be one of only a few companies who accept mail-in donations.
Good luck to others trying to sort through this — it’s no wonder that the cord blood banks have limited supplies, it’s too darn hard to donate!