Freqently Asked Questions
Q. What is umbilical cord blood?
A. During your pregnancy, the placenta and blood within it (cord blood) is the lifeline of nourishment from you to your baby through the umbilical cord. After birth, the umbilical cord, placenta, and cord blood will be thrown away unless you specify differently. Your baby’s umbilical cord blood is rich in the same type of stem cells found in bone marrow. These are the parent cells which form all of a person’s blood cells: red cells that carry oxygen, white cells that fight disease and platelets that help blood to clot.
Q. Are there any risks involved?
A. This process is absolutely safe for you and your baby, because the collection procedure takes place after your baby is delivered. Cord blood can be collected from all routine single-birth pregnancies.
Q. Does it cost me money to donate cord blood?
A. The process is totally free to you. The St. Louis Cord Blood Bank will pay for the cord blood collection and all associated costs. Your insurance company will not be billed for anything, and you will not be charged for any expenses resulting from the collection of the cord blood.
Q. Can cord blood be collected if I deliver on the weekend?
A. Yes. Cord blood collections can be obtained 7 days a week, 24 hours a day at participating hospitals.
Q. Can I donate if I have a C-section?
A. The collection kit provided is completely sterile and therefore approved for use during a C-section. However, it is still up to your physician whether or not to collect during a C-section. This should be discussed prior to delivery.
Q. Can I still choose who cuts my baby’s umbilical cord?
A. Yes. Since the collection takes place after the umbilical cord bas been cut, whoever wishes to cut the cord can do so.
Q. Does cord blood donation mandate early clamping of the umbilical cord?
A. For donation to the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank, the physicians are instructed NOT to alter their birthing practice to collect the cord blood. It is up to the family and their physician to create a birthing plan that meets their needs. This is a personal decision and you are encouraged to discuss this with your physician.
Q. What if my child develops a medical condition requiring a stem cell transplant?
A. If your child or other family member ever requires medical treatment for a serious life threatening disorder and needs treatment with stem cell transplantation, the cord may have been used for another person or used for research. Your physician will determine if the donation is still available and appropriate for your needs.
Q. Why isn't there a cord blood bank or collecting hospital in my area?
A. Cord blood donation is currently not available in all communities. Many do not have the technical and/or financial resources needed to establish and operate a public cord blood bank. If you are planning to deliver at a non-participating hospital, you may still be able to donate cord blood. Get more information here.
Q. Is stem cell research a controversial issue?
A. For some people, it is. But what is controversial is the way in which different stem cells are obtained. Embryonic stem cells require the destruction of the embryo in order to be used for testing and research. Cord blood is a source of adult stem cells like bone marrow. Because cord blood stem cells are obtained after the birth of a healthy infant and pose no risk to the donating mother or baby, there are no ethical issues or controversy connected with the collection and use of these cells.
Not all cord blood collected will meet criteria for processing and therefore will not be stored for patient use. If this is the case, the blood will be discarded or utilized for research purposes that have been approved by the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank.
We do not participate in any activities that are designed to promote human cloning or the creation of human embryos for the specific purpose of producing embryonic stem cells for research.
Q. What’s the difference between a public and private cord blood bank?
A. When a donation is made to a public cord blood bank, such as the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank, the cord blood is donated with the hope it can help someone else in need. Therefore, the cord blood donation is not stored for your child or another family member. The umbilical cord blood is tested to ensure it meets stringent standards that qualify it to be used for someone who has a life threatening illness. If it meets these criteria, it is processed, typed, frozen and stored for potential use. The typing and characteristics of each unit are made available through registries that can be accessed by physicians worldwide to find a match for someone who needs a stem cell transplant.
Private cord blood banks are available for parents who wish to store their child’s cord blood for solely personal use. The cost for private storage averages about two thousand dollars, plus a yearly storage fee. The blood is stored for family use, and no one can access the blood except the parent or child at the age of consent. If you want the blood to be kept specifically for your child or another family member, the process must be coordinated with a private cord blood bank well in advance of your delivery.
Q. How can I become a donor?
A. For more information, or if you or someone you know is interested in becoming a cord blood donor, contact the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank at 314-268-2787 or 888-453-2673. Download the forms you’ll need to complete here »
Q. When should I complete the necessary paperwork?
A. You may fill out the Medical History Questionnaire 5 weeks prior to your expected due date and mail it in to the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank. You may also fill out your paperwork when you are at the hospital to deliver. It is not required to send it in ahead of time.