Have you considered donating your baby's umbilical cord blood to a public cord blood bank? We're proud to report that we donated Nora's to the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank—a nonprofit housed at my alma mater, Duke—where it will be used for a cord blood/bone marrow transplant or research to improve these types of transplants.
We had tried to donate Cricket's cord blood, but she arrived on a holiday and the collection team was off that day. This time around, we delivered at a hospital that doesn't participate in the program, so we had to do some work ahead of time.
The process was fairly simple. First I called the bank and did a short screening interview by phone, during which they asked me lots of questions about my risk factors for various diseases and conditions that could be passed through the blood. (The interview included multiple questions phrased in different ways to determine whether I was, in fact, a prostitute. Luckily, I'm not.)
After passing the initial screening, the bank sent us a collection kit the size of a small picnic cooler to bring to the delivery, along with half an inch of additional screening paperwork and forms for the doctor to sign.
I filled out most of the paperwork ahead of time, then we carted the kit with us to the hospital on the big day. The admitting nurse drew several extra tubes of blood when I arrived, which the bank would use to test for various diseases. The rest of the collection work fell to the doctor post-delivery while we were busy cuddling Nora. Once the cooler was packed, we called the bank to let them know the donation was ready. They sent a courier to pick it up from the hospital the following day.
Why was I intent on donating the cord blood? As a freshman and sophomore in college, I created a photo documentary about a young boy with a rare immune deficiency who was treated at Duke and ended up requiring a cord blood transplant. Sadly, he passed away shortly after the transplant from complications. I also lost another dear little friend that year after a stem cell transplant failed to cure her cancer.
We donated Nora's cord blood in memory of those two friends. What a way to enter the world, my sweet Nora! It will be an emotional day when she is old enough to understand how a part of her may have saved the life of another child.
Would you like to consider donating your baby's cord blood to a public bank? Click here for information on the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank. Click here for a list of additional banks involved with the National Cord Blood Inventory Program.
(I mentioned above that we failed to donate Cricket's cord blood. Happily, we found another type of donation to make together; we collected more than 200 ounces of breast milk to donate to a local breast milk bank for preterm and other ill babies. When I get a chance, I'll share that unusual and rewarding experience with you.)
Image above via Carolinas Cord Blood Bank
I'm Julia Soplop, writer and photographer. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.