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What is umbilical cord donation

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The blood in your baby’s placenta and umbilical cord is rich with stem cells. These stem cells can be used in stem cell transplants and/or cell therapy to save the life of someone with blood cancer or a blood disorder.

Usually, the placenta and umbilical cord are thrown away. And our cord programme is here to make them lifesaving!

Cord Infographic

In September 2013 I was told that, despite a worldwide search of the donor registers, they’d had no luck finding me a match. But they explained that they had found two umbilical cords that were sufficient matches and they were going to use this method. It was such a relief, as I was running out of options.

Nilush, who had a cord transplant in 2013

What happens to the cord blood?

After we collect your baby’s cord blood, we store it in our cord blood bank until it’s needed for a patient.

Why is cord blood so important?

Unlike with adult stem cell donors, the donated cord blood doesn’t even need to be an exact match for a patient! The stem cells in cord blood aren’t mature, so can develop to suit their recipient. 

Cord blood can be a great option for people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, who it can be harder to find a match for on the stem cell register.

If we can’t collect enough cord blood for transplant, we can use it for research. Researchers are working tirelessly to understand the different properties of cord blood, which will help us to ensure stem cell transplants are more effective than ever. Your baby can still help to save lives! 

You can find out detailed information about donating your cord blood here.

Where can I donate?

We can currently collect cord blood from five hospitals in the UK:

King’s College Hospital, London
Saint Mary’s Hospital, Manchester
- Saint Mary's Hospital, Wythenshawe (Manchester)
Leicester Royal Infirmary
Leicester General Hospital 

It costs thousands of pounds to establish a new cord blood centre, so we need to focus our funding in the most effective way. We know that lots of babies are born at these five hospitals every year, and that these areas have a diverse population. We need to make sure our cord blood bank is as ethnically diverse as possible, so more people have more chances of finding a lifesaving match.

If you’re pregnant and planning to give birth in one of our cord collection hospitals, and are interested in cord blood donation, you can register to donate now!