Cord Blood Awareness Month: Sharing Knowledge to Improve Awareness of a Lifesaving Donation Method

Rachel, cord blood transplant recipient

Rachel, cord blood transplant recipient

Special guest post by Be The Match®, a global leader in bone marrow transplantation.

At HelpHOPELive we often build awareness of transplant options because many of the fundraising campaigns we help organize include the distribution of educational and awareness materials. Our organization was founded by a transplant surgeon who wanted to help more patients have access to transplant procedures. In this guest post, Be The Match offers a unique perspective on cord blood transplants – a procedure only 1 in 4 Americans are aware of.

A little bit of knowledge makes a big difference when it comes to supporting cord blood donation.

Umbilical cord blood can help treat leukemia, lymphoma and more than 80 other diseases. But according to a recent survey, only about one-quarter of Americans are aware of the option to donate this potentially lifesaving blood to a public cord blood bank.

Cord Blood Awareness Month, each July, seeks to improve the public’s knowledge of how this safe and non-invasive donation method can save the lives of patients in need of a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. As shown in the survey, commissioned by Be The Match®, less than half of the respondents (48 percent) said they would consider donating cord blood to a public cord blood bank if a donation program were offered at their hospital. But with a brief explanation about the lifesaving potential of cord blood, the percentage of willing donors significantly increased to two thirds (66 percent).

Typically discarded after a baby’s birth, cord blood is a non-controversial source of stem cells that can prove lifesaving for patients fighting life-threatening blood cancers or other diseases. The donation process involves taking blood from the cord and placenta after a baby is born. A mother’s labor and delivery are unaffected, and no blood is taken from the baby.

Donated cord blood units can be listed on the national Be The Match Registry® where they are made available to any patient in need of a transplant. Each year, thousands of patients rely on the Be The Match Registry, the world’s largest listing of potential marrow donors and donated cord blood units, to find a genetically matched adult donor or cord blood unit for transplant. In many cases, this is a patient’s only chance for a cure.

There is a particular need for donated cord blood from babies whose parents are of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. Patients are more likely to find a matching donor or cord blood unit from someone who shares their heritage. By adding more diverse cord blood units to the Be The Match Registry, expectant parents can provide hope to more patients.

Learn more about cord blood donation at BeTheMatch.org/cord.

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