Tucson Medical Center is the latest hospital in the state, and the only hospital in Southern Arizona, to collect donated umbilical cord blood in partnership with the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona Biomedical Research Commission and the University of Colorado Cord Blood Bank.

The Arizona Public Cord Blood Program gives expectant parents the option of donating their baby’s umbilical cord blood to the national registry where it could save the life of someone with a life-threatening disease who needs a stem cell transplant. Cord blood transplants can help children and adults with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma or genetic diseases. More than 22,000 patients around the world have received transplants from donations to public cord blood banks.

Donating cord blood does not hurt the mother or the baby. It does not change your labor or delivery, and donation to a public bank is free – it does not cost you anything. Your privacy is valued, and the names of cord blood donors are never shared.

The Save the Cord Foundation is proud to partner with the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program and be the voice for unbiased cord blood education and awareness.

Click here for information in Spanish.

Umbilical Cord Donation Options

Expectant parents can choose to:

Donate baby’s umbilical cord blood to a public cord blood bank, where it will be available to anyone who needs it for transplantation or to scientists for important research on diseases and cures.

Pay to store it in a private cord blood bank, where it is reserved for your own family or a biological sibling with a medical need. For more information, click private banking.

If you do nothing, the cord blood will be discarded after birth.

Umbilical Cord Donation - Frequently Asked Questions

How is cord blood used?

Umbilical cord blood is a precious resource because it is rich in blood-forming stem cells, which can renew themselves and grow into mature blood cells. These cells are collected, stored and made available for any patient who needs donated cells due to a disease in their own cells such as leukemia or a genetic disorder. A transplant replaces a patient’s unhealthy blood-forming cells with healthy ones.

How is cord blood collected?

As with every delivery, after your baby is born, the umbilical cord will be clamped and cut. The blood left in the umbilical cord is then collected and transferred to a public cord blood bank and listed on the Be The Match Registry.

Is donated cord blood always stored?

Not all donated cord blood is eligible to be banked. The collected cord blood unit must be large enough and free from infection or diseases. This ensures the cord blood unit is suitable for a patient needing a transplant.

Why are more donations needed?

Seven out of 10 people will not have a suitable matched donor in their family and will depend on the Be The Match Registry to find a match. Adding more cord blood units to the registry increases the likelihood that all patients will find a match.

Racially and ethnically diverse donors are especially needed.

Patients are more likely to match tissue types with someone who shares their racial or ethnic heritage. And since nearly 35 percent of cord blood units used in NMDP transplants go to ethnically or racially diverse patients, we strongly encourage donations from all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Am I eligible to donate?

You may be eligible to donate if you are:

o   Expecting a single birth.

o   Expecting a delivery of at least 36 weeks gestation.

o   At least 18 years old.

How do I donate?

If you are interested in donating: 

Let your health care provider know you would like to donate your baby’s cord blood.

When you come to TMC to deliver, tell your nurse that you’d like to donate.

To learn more about umbilical cord blood donation at Tucson Medical Center, contact Cord Blood Coordinator Kristen Wilt, (520) 324-6210 or Kristen.Wilt@tmcaz.com.

In the YouTube video below, Michelle and Erik Praskins explain how the decision of a complete stranger saved their son Dylan’s life. Public cord blood can serve as a life-saving treatment for cancers and genetic disorders.