Why You Should Consider Donating Your Cord Blood

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Lizzie Lau

Why You Should Consider Donating Your Cord Blood

You may not have given any thought to saving your cord blood. I didn’t. I’d heard about people putting their placenta in the freezer, burying under a tree, having it made into capsules and eating them, but never about a Cord Blood Bank. If I’d known then what I know now, I would have donated my cord blood to the Cord Blood Bank.

When I decided, at the last minute, to have a child, I wanted to have a mixed race baby, for a few reasons.

  • I grew up in a multi-cultural family and always felt like I was pigment-challenged compared to my gorgeous cousins.
  • After traveling the world, and experiencing many cultures I felt a social responsibility to help reduce the friction of cultural conflicts.  What better way than creating a beautiful creature born of more than one culture.
  • I spent most of my adult life in Latin American countries, Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. I have felt an affinity to the culture and the language for as long as I can remember.
  • I have a theory that mixed kids are healthier and stronger.

Canadian Blood Services – Cord Blood Bank

To be perfectly honest, when I was approached by Canadian Blood Services to write a post promoting the Cord Blood Bank, my first reaction was – probably not.  I’m not having more babies and I missed my opportunity to save my daughter’s cord blood because I didn’t know anything about it at the time.  Wait, that is a good reason to share this story!  Surely other women could benefit from hearing why it’s a great idea.

So I asked for more information, and they shared Nadia’s story with me:

Three years ago, I got the news that no parent ever wants to hear. My daughter, Nadia, was diagnosed with a rare, progressive bone marrow failure syndrome. I remember thinking: “thank goodness it is not cancer”, but what I didn’t know was that this was a one in a million diagnosis that would require a stem cell transplant from a complete stranger. Nadia is of a diverse ethnic background, which meant that finding a stem cell match would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

At any given time, Canadian Blood Services is searching for stem cell donors on behalf of patients in need. The reality is there are hundreds of families – just like ours – who are waiting to receive a call that a match has been found, desperate to know there is hope.

About two months after Nadia’s diagnosis, we got very lucky. We found out that there was a cord blood donation that was a partial match. It was not a perfect match, but it was Nadia’s perfect match. In February of 2014, Nadia received a cord blood stem cell transplant.

There are no words to express the gratitude that I feel towards the forward-thinking mother who decided to donate her baby’s cord blood – it saved Nadia’s life. I think about her every day.

It is often a waste product, meaning that it is discarded post-delivery. However, it has the power to save lives. Donating is easy and cost free. On behalf of Nadia and our whole family, I urge all expectant mothers to consider this lifesaving gift. You have the power to give life by donating your baby’s cord blood.   

Thanks to this gift of life, Nadia is now a healthy, happy five year old. She loves school, playing with friends and jumping on trampolines. She is a regular little girl, a girl who was given a second chance thanks to a cord blood stem cell transplant.

Tara is a mother living in Kelowna, BC. Healthy volunteer mothers can donate to Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank if they are delivering at one of five designated collection hospitals across the country.  To learn more about cord blood donation, visit www.givelifetwice.ca.

When I read this story one thing really stood out to me: diverse ethnic background.  My daughter is Guatemalan and Chinese on her father’s side.  More than ever I regret not saving her cord blood. The difficulty of finding a match for her if she ever needs one will be high.

More Information about the Cord Blood Bank

Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank is dedicated to continuing to build a national, public inventory of umbilical cord blood stem cells to further increase transplant opportunities for patients in Canada and around the world. At any given time, Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network is searching on behalf of hundreds of Canadian patients in need of an unrelated blood stem cell donor. Approximately 75 per cent of patients who need an unrelated blood stem cell transplant are unable to find a suitable match within their own family.

  • Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank is a national program that: recruits healthy, volunteer mothers delivering at a designated collection hospital,
    • collects, tests and stores eligible blood stem cells from the umbilical cord and placenta,
    • collects donations at no charge to you. It is a public cord blood bank that is not affiliated with private banks.
    • makes eligible cord blood units available for any patient in Canada or world-wide in need of an unrelated stem cell transplant.
  • Many Canadian patients have unique stem cell matching needs reflecting Canada’s extensive diversity. Stem cell donors from all ethnic backgrounds are needed.
  • Umbilical cord blood is one of three sources of blood stem cells for stem cell transplant. The other two are bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cells found in circulating blood.
  • Cord blood stem cells are used for stem cell transplantation for treating over 80 diseases and disorders—for example, leukemia, lymphoma, aplastic anemia, inherited immune system and metabolic disorders, as well as sickle cell disease.
  • Until it opened in 2013, Canada was the only G8 country without a national, public cord blood bank.

There’s no downside to donating.

Food for thought.

This post is sponsored by the Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank about a free service, opinions are my own.