Cord Blood Donation

Maternity & Neonatal Services

A lifeline beyond the umbilical cord

Saint Luke’s Health System provides the Kansas City area’s only free cord blood donation program.

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Saint Luke's Cord Blood program offers the area's only free cord blood donation. The program gives mothers delivering at our four metro hospitals as well as other hospitals in the Kansas City metro the option of making a lifesaving donation. Saint Luke’s cord blood donations are able to help anyone – anywhere in the world.

What is cord blood?

During pregnancy, the placenta and blood within it serve as the lifeline of nourishment from mother to baby via the umbilical cord. Most umbilical cords are typically discarded after the baby is born.

However, this valuable blood is rich in hematopoietic stem cells (the same type of stem cells found in bone marrow). These “parent cells” create all of a person's blood cells: red cells that carry oxygen, white cells that fight disease and platelets that help blood to clot. Cord blood cells can treat leukemia, sickle cell anemia and dozens of other diseases and disorders.

Make a donation

If you plan to deliver your baby at Saint Luke's HospitalSaint Luke's South HospitalSaint Luke's East Hospital, or Saint Luke's North Hospital - Barry Road and want to donate your baby's cord blood, let your doctor know in advance. You must be preregistered, please complete the registration forms below. We also collect cord blood at other area hospitals. Check with your doctor or hospital to see if the service is available.

Podcast

Listen to Bill Ward, director of Saint Luke’s Cellular Processing Lab, talk about cord blood donation.

Who benefits from cord blood?

More than 70 percent of children and adults requiring a bone marrow transplant do not have an immune-matched sibling. However, half of these people will be able to find a matched unrelated donor through the national bone marrow registries.

Saint Luke's launched the area's only free, public cord donation program at Saint Luke's Hospital in 2008. A second location opened at Saint Luke's South Hospital in 2010. Unlike private blood banks, which are only available to parents who pay hundreds to thousands of dollars to have their child's cord blood stored, public blood banks are available to everyone.

Saint Luke's Cord Blood program serves as a worldwide resource for children and adults who need a stem cell transplant. And collecting umbilical cord blood from donors of different ethnic backgrounds will benefit a larger number of patients.

How is cord blood collected?

Every pregnant patient at our participating hospitals will be asked whether she wants to donate her umbilical cord blood. After a patient agrees and her baby is born, the umbilical cord is clamped, cut, and separated from the baby.

Using a needle, blood is collected from the umbilical cord. The procedure is painless, noninvasive and doesn't interfere with the birthing process. While the procedure is virtually risk-free, a doctor will not collect the cord blood if he has any concern about the safety of the mother or baby.

How is cord blood processed?

After collecting donated cord blood cells, Saint Luke's then tests and processes the cells at Saint Luke's Hospital's stem cell processing laboratory.

Next, the cord blood is shipped to St. Louis for storage in the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank based at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center. It's one of about 24 accredited public facilities in the United States that stores umbilical cord blood for clinical and basic research for stem cell transplantation.

Through this partnership, Saint Luke's is helping increase the world's supply of stem cell-rich umbilical cord blood and helping save people's lives throughout the world.

Isn't stem cell research controversial?

Yes, but the controversy centers around the way in which different stem cells are obtained. For embryonic stem cells, the embryo must be destroyed in order to be used for testing and research. However, cord blood is considered a source of adult stem cells like bone marrow. Because cord blood stem cells are collected after the birth of a healthy infant and pose no risk to the donating mother or baby, there are no ethical issues or controversy connected with the use of these cells.

Download a donation registration packet.