Cord blood is the blood that's left in part of the umbilical cord and placenta after the baby's birth. The baby doesn't need this extra blood.
Cord blood has all the same aspects as normal blood:
- Red blood cells
- White blood cells
It's also rich in blood-forming stem cells, like those found in bone marrow.
Doctors can use cord blood for transplant instead of bone marrow. Cord blood doesn't have to match a person's tissue type as closely as bone marrow does.
Stem cells found in cord blood can treat blood cancer such as leukemia and lymphoma.
Doctors collect cord blood right after a baby's birth, but before the placenta delivery. They take blood only after clamping and cutting the cord, so there's no risk to the baby or the mother.
In the past, hospitals threw away umbilical cords and placental tissue as medical waste. Now parents can choose to preserve this material for the chance to help their own family, community, or the public.