Mothers encouraged to donate life-saving cord blood

Baby Ryan's umbilical cord blood was collected and donated to the Hawaii Cord Blood Bank.

It’s often overlooked and thrown out, but the blood from a baby’s umbilical cord could help cancer patients and save someone’s life.

Maribeth Toledo-Cabuslay was a happy working mom with two beautiful girls when last year she found out she was having a baby boy.

After the birth, baby Ryan’s umbilical cord blood was collected and donated to the Hawaii Cord Blood Bank — something Maribeth had never heard of before.

“It was during delivery that they just told me something about it and they said do you want to donate and I said okay sure,” said Toledo-Cabuslay. “It was really quick and non-invasive.”

“Cord blood that we take is the leftover blood that is in the umbilical cord after the baby has been born,” explained Nola Faria of Hawaii Cord Blood Bank.

To donate cord blood, expectant moms can sign up with their doctor in advance or during labor. They need to be 18 or older, be pregnant with one baby and not have engaged in high-risk behaviors.

“Basically, they provide a collection bag just like the a blood collection bag and the doctor will go ahead and prepare the cord,” Faria said.

The blood is frozen then flown to Seattle where its tested, stored then matched to treat people with cancer, blood diseases and other disorders. Once the cord blood is extracted, it’s good for at least 15 years.

“We’ve had 152 people that have been saved by cord blood that was collected here in Hawaii,” Faria said.

Cord blood is collected on Maui and Oahu and so far only 8-10 percent of moms opt to donate. Some say they haven’t heard of this while others might confuse the cord blood bank with a private out-of-state company that charges to store the blood. In that case, “mothers can choose to privately store their baby’s cord blood for their own personal use,” Faria said.

Donating to the public bank is free and it’s just like a regular blood bank, which can be used by people who need the blood.

“It would be a good idea to donate,” said Toledo-Cabuslay. “It could save other people’s lives and that’s another gift you could be giving on Mother’s Day.”

Related Link: Hawaii Cord Blood Bank

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