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Have you thought about donating your afterbirth to save a life?

(25 Posts)
glossyflower Fri 26-Oct-12 17:54:56

This is something very close to my heart.
In April, my dad had a bone marrow transplant for leukaemia. He's only 55 and was first diagnosed with leukaemia when he was only 45.
The months leading up to his transplant were hard, the chemo almost killed him and it took months to find a bone marrow match.
Thankfully, although not 100% he was able to walk me down the aisle and see his first grandchild born next April (one year after his transplant!)

Recently I have heard a story about a young 11 year old girl called Zoe who needs a transplant for aplastic anaemia and despite searching the worldwide register, has no match yet.

And our afterbirth is brimming with the stem cells that people like Zoe needs right now.

Any ladies expecting a baby can donate stem cells by giving away their umbilical cord and placenta after you have given birth. Stuff that's usually just put in a clinical waste bin and incinerated really could save a life.
It's true with cord blood there is generally a smaller amount of stem cells than donating in the usual way - but where's the harm in giving it away? Some patients can receive more that one donation of cord blood so it's still worth it.

The only issues to this are only certain centres in the UK are using the fairly new scheme.
That's King's College Hospital and The Royal Free Hospital in London and the Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicester General Hospital.

For more info visit

Hopefully, the more women join up the more likely other hospitals can join and take part.

Thanks for reading.

5madthings Fri 26-Oct-12 18:07:41

Doesnt donating the cord blood mean clamping the cord straight away after delivery? Many mums choose to.let the cord stop.pulsating so all the blood goes into the baby and then deliver placenta naturally.

I thought to donate cird blood it had to be clamped so baby doesnt get the blood and you need to have a managed third stage ie the injection to make you deliver the placenta?

If it can still be collected without preventing the baby getting the blood it should have and also without the syntometrine injection for the mum then great but for me personally i wouldnt want to clamp the cord early ir have the injection as both have implications for mum and baby.

It is a great thing to do tho smile

Tiredmumno1 Fri 26-Oct-12 19:28:31

I donated the cord blood with DC3, I had not heard of it before, I was asked if I would just before I went in for a c section so I said yes, I must admit I don't know too much about it though.

The next I heard about it was a thank you card that was left on my table on the ward whilst I was asleep and that was that.

glossyflower Fri 26-Oct-12 19:44:03

5 not necessarily - obviously the health of the mother and baby are paramount and takes importance in birth over collecting stem cells.
Cord blood can be obtained after cord cutting, and still contains a fair amount of blood after baby. Also stem cells can be obtained from cord blood tissue, Whartons Jelly I think it's called.
I believe there were illegal operators collecting cord blood for private companies reported. Anybody considering donating should ensure they are going through the proper channels and using licensed operators approved by the human tissue authority.

Of course it's the mothers informed choice if she wants to donate the cells or not I just wanted to put this out there because not many people realise you can do it smile.

I'm not an expert by any means. For more info have a look via

glossyflower Fri 26-Oct-12 19:46:43

tiredmum do you know who took the cord blood? Which hospital was this and how long? Generally stranger donors for stem cells don't get to know who they donated to. X

PedanticPanda Fri 26-Oct-12 19:49:13

Yes I'm going to do this if my chosen hospital will facilitate it.

5madthings Fri 26-Oct-12 19:54:04

So you can leave the cord to stop pulsatong and deliver placenta naturally and they can still collect blood and stem cells from the 'jelly'? Thats good smile

What i had read previouslt didnt say thar, tho that was a few yrs ago when i looked into doing it.

Its a procedure that is fairly easy? Shame more hospitals dont offer it as i think many mums would be happy to donate, i would have been providing i could wait for cord to stop pulsating and still deliver the placenta with a natural third stage.

It would be easy ti just have it as another section of birth plan type notes.

PurplePidjInAPointyHat Fri 26-Oct-12 19:55:14

Yes, i looked into it. Unfortunately, I'm a fair way from anywhere able to collect (large teaching hospital but not London)

I'm on AN, donate blood, am an organ donor and will donate milk if i can and it's practical (rural area). I would automatically give cord/placenta blood if i could.

My placenta and cord will most likely end up dissected by a med student, not quite the same but best i can do!

kittenspjs Fri 26-Oct-12 19:58:13

I gave birth in The Royal London in 2009 and asking fir the afterbirth was routine then. Someone came to me the morning after dd was born to ask if I would donate, all I had to do was sign my name in a form. I hope we have helped someone.

Tiredmumno1 Fri 26-Oct-12 20:01:08

Glossy it was 19 months ago at Watford General, I can find out who it was if you give me a mo smile (that's if it says on the card) hang on......

2blessed Fri 26-Oct-12 20:04:11

I'm really interested in this, will look into and add to my birth plan. Thanks for this thread OP

Tiredmumno1 Fri 26-Oct-12 20:08:52

Ok it just says thank you from the NHS Cord Blood Bank with the web address

glossyflower Fri 26-Oct-12 20:16:12

tiredmum ah I just looked it up and Watford is under the National Blood Service.... Copied and pasted follows ...
NHSBT has five cord blood collection centres: Watford General, Barnet General, Northwick Park, Luton and Dunstable and St George's Hospitals.
So that's more centres for us to chose from!
5 I'm no expert on this, just an interested person. If its something you are thinking about but not sure, just give Anthony Nolan or National Blood UK a call to check smile

I don't live close enough to a centre but I would have loved to have given something back in thanks for my dad being well.
I am on the regular donor register though smile xxx

RightUpMyRue Fri 26-Oct-12 20:20:37

I would love to do this but I also would really like a homebirth. I'm guessing the two are incompatible?

SilentMammoth Fri 26-Oct-12 20:22:55

I emailed the nbs asking if I could donate and got a very snotty email back saying no, not in your area.

Tiredmumno1 Fri 26-Oct-12 20:32:59

I will be donating again next year smile

glossyflower Fri 26-Oct-12 20:50:39

No Rue you wouldn't be able to. From my understanding it has to be from an approved centre.
silent that's terrible! They should be grateful people are even enquiring about it.
panda tiredmum kitten and 2blessed and anyone else, from someone whose loved one has needed stem cells and got them (not from cord blood though) it's people like you who really could give someone a second chance. It means so much to me and a lot of other people.

I want to clarify that as far as I'm aware, National Blood and Anthony Nolan will only use healthy stem cells gathered for transplantation not for research although there's the possibility (I guess) that any cells no longer suitable for use in transplant, ie expired products may be used for research purposes.

5madthings Fri 26-Oct-12 20:54:16

i have 5 and am not planning any more but if i do i will look into it, the anthony nolan site says you can still do delayed cord clamping, the nhs website didnt say at all so if its possible that would be great, i guess they would get less blood but it says about needing 50ml? anyway its got to be worth trying smile

yes it does say if they are not suitable they may be used for research but it is all ethical and for medical purposes ie stem related research so for spinal injuries etc, again all good smile

rightup contact anthony nolan it may still be possible actually from what i have read on their website about how they do it as the midwife will still be taking your placenta away? so assuming they have a cool box type thing to put it in i would guess they could still do it, just going by what i have read on the website, but there is an 0800 number you can ring with questions smile

5madthings Fri 26-Oct-12 20:54:53

re the authorised centre if the midwife takes the placenta to an authorised centre then it should still be possible?

glossyflower Fri 26-Oct-12 21:05:40

5 from my understanding, a person who specifically deals in extracting the cord blood will be present at the hospital and extract it as soon as possible in near sterile conditions. I don't think the midwife does it x

5madthings Fri 26-Oct-12 21:07:26

some midwives are trained to do it, but even so if the placenta is put into a cool box (that is sterile) and taken to one of the hospitals that does it, it may still be possible? worth asking them as they are desperate for them so surely they will consider all options?

Graciescotland Fri 26-Oct-12 21:15:05

I had agreed to donate cord/ blood/ placenta but the clinicians who collected were only available 9-5 and I gave birth in the early hours so it all went in the incinerator. That was at the ERI in Edinburgh, not sure if anything has changed since though.

expatinscotland Fri 26-Oct-12 21:18:12

There's is one immense caveat to cord blood donations, and I only learned this through the death of my daughter.

They take longer to engraft. The recipient has no immune system, and is prone to infections even from within his/her own body.

Two of these infections killed my child before she could engraft.

glossyflower Sat 27-Oct-12 00:21:39

Sorry to hear that expat. That's really sad you went through that.
I didn't know about engraftment rates being different with cord blood stem cells as opposed to stem cells donated by an adult.
With any stem cell/bone marrow transplant it's unfortunately quite usual for the person receiving it to have no immune system for a while, as the object of the transplant is to remove any trace of your own diseased cells to replace with new healthy ones.
Infection is the biggest risk for everybody having this kind of treatment.
All the best wishes to you xxx

expatinscotland Sat 27-Oct-12 00:47:22

Cord blood cells are known to take longer to engraft.

This is better, when being used to treat a non-cancerous condition, such as MDS or aplastic anaemia, as the recipient has not have round after round of chemo or radiotherapy.

So donations are vital in that respect.

There is also a weight limit threshold of 35kgs for using cord blood donations, so again, absolutely vital for children.

In the case of my daughter, she had acute myeloid leukaemia with t 6;9 and mutated FLT3, the latter of which she did not remit in the induction/ADE round.

Because she was mixed race (white Scottish/Latino) it was a struggle to find any suitable donor. By the time one was found, she had undergone 4 rounds of 7-10 days straight chemo, 2-3 drugs a day, the standard protocol for AML worldwide.

My daughter died of respiratory failure from human metapnuemovirus and psuedomonas infection. Her official causes of death were respiratory failure, interstitial pneumonia, acute myeloid leukaemia.

I'd not dissuade anyone from donating cord blood, however, donations saved the lives of several we came to know who were suffering from non-cancerous conditions requiring stem cell transplant.


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