The last time I was in the delivery room, in 2008, I remember a nurse holding up a white pouch for me to see. It contained the blood from Baby Eve’s umbilical cord.
My husband and I had decided against privately banking her cord blood. It just didn’t make sense for us, given the hefty price-tag to store it and the fact our family has no history of diseases that benefit from stem cell treatment from the cord blood (namely leukemia, sickle cell disease, other immune and metabolic disorders). But I regretted we weren’t presented with an option at the time to donate the blood, because I knew it could be put to good use, whether for a transplant or research. That regret multiplied when the nurse told me they soon would simply dispose of that little white pouch.
This pregnancy, I was thrilled to read in the big binder I got from my OB that there is now a way to donate my baby boy’s cord blood. But boy, is it a process, one I probably should have started before today. Two phone calls and one Internet application down, I am facing 14 pages of health questionaires and release forms that need to be completed (mostly by me, but some by my doctor) and received by the company before I finish my 34th week of pregnancy. I’m now in week 32.
Assuming everything is OK with my application and my doc agrees and the private company the hospital works with to donate the blood is still accepting donors for the month, I’ll be sent a collection kit that I have to bring to the hospital. I will also be responsible for notifying the company when I’m in active labor and shortly after the birth of the baby. (Note to self on delivery day: Call Mom, Call Grandma, Call Lifeforce Cryobanks …) After the baby is born, they’ll draw my blood and review medical records and make sure enough stem cells were collected. This is all also under the assumption that I don’t deliver between 3 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday. (If the cord blood is collected during that time frame, the company can’t accept it. I don’t know why, though I imagine it has to do with their ability to transport it.)
It’s a hassle, for sure, on an already long pre-baby to-do list. But the good that could come about is worth it, to me.