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Cord blood donation is easy, seamless

Posted on Jul. 6, 2016 ( comments)
Jordan and Zoey

In honor of National Cord Blood Awareness Month, we’re sharing this story from a local mom who went through the cord blood donation process.

MultiCare and Bloodworks Northwest paired up in 2015 to create a program for collecting umbilical cord blood, an important source for stem cell transplants, from new mothers in South Puget Sound. Learn more about donating cord blood.

My decision to participate in the cord blood donation program through MultiCare Health System was an easy one. It started in the triage room at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, when the labor nurse asked me if I would be interested in donating my child’s umbilical cord blood.

Being five centimeters dilated at the time, I welcomed the distraction and asked to hear more. The nurse explained how the precious stem cells found in umbilical cord blood can be used to treat patients suffering from an array of life-threatening diseases — but often this cord blood is simply discarded after birth.

I myself am a registered organ donor and I believe in paying it forward, but I also had my baby to worry about. The nurse assured me that the cord blood collection process was seamless and posed no risk to my baby or me.

Related content: Your questions about cord blood, answered

How to enroll in the program

Instead of discarding the umbilical cord blood, my doctor would collect a vial of it shortly after delivery and take an additional blood sample from my baby and me to screen for any disorders that would render the sample unfit for use. All of this was to be done at no additional cost to me.

As far as I could tell, it sounded easy and painless — and when the time came, it was just as seamless as the nurse promised. The lab tech drew a sample of my blood to be analyzed and the doctor stored the cord blood right after my daughter was born. Another blood sample was collected from my baby during the standard blood draws for all of her newborn screening tests.

Afterward, the doctor looked me in the eye and sincerely thanked me for my donation. I signed my name on a dotted line and just like that, I may have saved a life.

The significance of that didn’t really hit me until a few days later at home with my new baby girl when the phone rang. It was a representative from Bloodworks Northwest calling to tell me that my generous cord blood donation was going to be added to a worldwide registry.

The woman on the phone explained to me that only 20 percent of samples are good enough to make the cut, and my donation was one of them. She also told me that if it was a match for someone in need, I would receive a call to inform me how my donation was used to treat someone’s potentially life-threatening disease.

It was an overwhelming feeling, to say the least. I was lucky enough to give birth to a completely healthy child with no complications, but many others are not so lucky.

Somewhere out there, somebody’s loved one is suffering the unthinkable with nothing to do but wait for a match. I certainly hope my donation gets put to use and I encourage every expectant mother to research the cord blood donation program offered by MultiCare and Bloodworks Northwest.

Your decision might just save a life.

Related content: Your questions about cord blood, answered

How to enroll in the program

Posted in: General Vitals

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Jordan Christiaens
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