Bloodtobaby is committed to educating about the critical question’s women, midwives and other maternity workers may have about umbilical cord blood banking in order to ensure physiology is not compromised whilst also considering aspects like parent education and informed consent. Please see our website for more details.
So, we are delighted to publish this blog by second year Student Midwife Coral Mewett who reflects on practice and challenges the very sensitive issues around cord blood donation and banking.
This also blog summarises issues presented in our new cord blood banking module - due for release in September.
Stem cell therapy and donating cord blood to aid research is not a new phenomenon, it has been happening for years. However, it is in recent years that blood banks have been able to join hospital trusts and work exclusively within the hospital. On the whole this can improve the rates of donation and public knowledge of stem cell therapy and its importance.
It cannot be denied that advances in medicine due to stem cell research and therapy have been profound, and the media has extensively covered this. The NHS opened its own cord blood bank in 1996 and since then a vast amount of public and private banks have become available to women (NHS Blood and Transplant, 2019).
My knowledge of public cord blood banking has been established through clinical placement in the community and on labour ward. Women are introduced to the option of donating cord blood at the booking appointment when a leaflet is given to them in the pack of information supplied.
The leaflet details why cord blood is so important to research, how it can be donated, and suggests that it doesn’t impact on the woman’s birth plan or carry any risks.
Women can then fill in the leaflet, further paperwork is sent to them to read and sign and finally a sticker placed on the maternity notes indicating that this woman would like to donate once she has given birth.
Problems and informed consent
Women can research cord blood donation online or through resources given to them by their community midwife. However, the literature appears to miss out on some of the crucial elements of cord donation. To truly gain informed consent, I believe women should be educated on the benefits afforded to their baby when delayed or optimal cord clamping is practiced.