Facebook Twitter Instagram You Tube Pinterest LinkedIn RSS Podcasts Video Library Blog
 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Umbilical Cord Blood Donation

The blood that remains in your baby’s umbilical cord and placenta after birth is referred to as cord blood. During the past several years, a number of programs have been developed to collect and store cord blood for potential transplantation.

The decision to donate or bank cord blood cells is a personal choice. The Illinois Hospital Licensing Act offers families the opportunity to donate their baby’s cord blood for public or private collection and storage. Expectant parents have two options regarding a baby’s cord blood:

  • Cord blood donation - A collection of blood from the umbilical cord and placenta after delivery of your baby. Once the blood is donated, it loses all identifying information after a short period of initial testing. Although families are not able to retrieve their own blood after it has been donated, the cord blood can be used for anyone in need. There is no charge to you for this donation.
  • Cord blood banking - A collection of blood from the umbilical cord and placenta after delivery of your baby that is stored by a private bank. The blood is linked to the identity of the donor, so that the family may retrieve it later if it is needed by the donor baby, or it could be used by a relative who is a close enough match to receive a transplant from the donor. Private banks charge a collection and yearly fee.

We ask that you discuss your desire to donate or bank cord blood with your health care provider during your pregnancy.


A public organization (ITxM Clinical Services with LifeSource) accepts free donations of umbilical cord blood. If you choose to donate, contact the company during your pregnancy. They will mail you a questionnaire which should be completed and brought with you when you come into labor. The collection kit is already at the hospital. More information can be found at: LifeSource Cord Blood Program http://www.lifesource.org/specialprogCord.asp

Private Banking

Northwestern Memorial Hospital does not have a business or financial relationship with any cord blood bank and does not provide oversight of their practices. Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s employees cannot recommend any company nor provide information on pricing, quality or practices of cord blood bank organizations.

A number of companies offer banking of the cord blood for an initial and yearly fee to process and store the blood for the donor or family member. If you have decided to bank the cord blood, a collection kit should be mailed to you by the company. Please bring that cord blood collection kit that is provided to you by the company when you are admitted to Labor and Delivery. We do not maintain supplies of these kits in the hospital. Upon your admission, please inform your nurse of your desire for cord blood banking and provide your nurse with the cord blood collection kit. This will allow your provider to review the instructions for obtaining the umbilical cord blood as each company is different in their collection procedure.

If you choose to use a private cord blood bank, here are some issues to consider before you make your decision:

  • Ensure that the bank is accredited with the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) (http://www.aabb.org/).
  • Obtain a written list of initial charges, ongoing yearly fees, and any other financial requirements.
  • Ask how long the company has been in business, how many samples the company currently stores, how many transplants they have done, and how they store the cord blood.
  • Ask what will happen in the event that blood cannot be collected or if the collection is insufficient to store. Will your money be returned?

Collecting the sample

Collecting your baby's cord blood is a painless process for the baby since the blood comes from the placenta following birth, not from the baby. A blood draw from the mother is also part of the procedure and requires a needle stick to the mother.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital will attempt to accommodate your request for umbilical cord blood collection; however the decision to collect the cord blood will be made by your provider at the time of delivery. Sometimes circumstances may present which have a higher priority than blood collection. When possible, Northwestern Memorial Hospital providers and employees will attempt to the best of their ability to obtain an acceptable collection. However, it may not be possible to obtain the umbilical cord blood or the specimen may be rejected by the company. We cannot guarantee that an adequate cord blood collection will be obtained. For this reason, we recommend that you do not pay for the collection ahead of time if you choose private banking.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Alberto Culver Health Learning Center at 312.926.5465 or email us at hlc@nmh.org.


Last UpdateJanuary 29, 2013