In any given year, about 25,000 organ transplants are performed in the United States. At any given time, there are approximately 100,000 Americans on a waiting list for a transplant. And since 1995, 89,664 Americans have died while on a waiting list for a transplant.
Whether it be the inability to find a match, the lack of donors, or the serious progression of the disease, it’s hard to believe than so many lives have been lost when they could have been saved.
As parents, we look forward to bringing a life into the world. But what if, at the same time, we could use the birth of our child to help save another life? Enter cord blood donation.
The umbilical cord serves a crucial role in prenatal development, as it serves as the primary connection between baby and mother. Traditionally, after a baby is born, the umbilical cord and placenta is discarded (or, in Tom Cruise’s case, cooked and eaten). However, it has been found that the umbilical cord is rich in life-saving stem cells, and cord blood is one of the three sources of cells used during organ transplants. Additionally, cord blood has been used successfully in marrow/cord blood transplants in leukemia and childhood cancer patients.
For patients that need an organ transplant quickly, or have had difficulty finding a bone marrow match, cord blood can often be the difference between life and death. And in even in cases where the cord blood doesn’t have enough stem cells to assist in a transplant, it can be donated to ongoing research programs across the nation.
The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) has 18 cord blood banks all over the country where interested parents can donate, for free, their baby’s umbilical cord blood for use in the national marrow donor registry. My wife and I are looking into the possibility of donating our child’s cord blood so that, maybe, a life can be saved.
I would encourage all expecting parents to look into the possibility of donating your baby’s cord blood to a cord blood bank. Many hospitals have partnerships with banks. And if not, there are several banks that will travel to pick up your donation from your hospital.
Hopefully the birth of our child can save the life of another. The newest generation of parents should make this their mission, and if even half of us can choose to donate our childrens’ cord blood, think of what a difference we can make.