The focus of cord blood is usually on your baby, after all, it being their blood, it is a 100% genetic match to them. 

But is it only them? Who else, if anyone, can use their cord blood?

Your baby

Privately banking your child’s cord blood gives them access to a lifelong safety net – stem cells which will always be 100% genetically matched to them.

Your baby can use their stem cells for many conditions which could impact them throughout their life. Stem cells can treat over 80 conditions worldwide such as blood cancers, anaemias, and injuries.

However, under some circumstances, your child may not be able to use their stem cells. Genetic conditions, ones likely to have been present from birth, cannot be treated using their own stem cells. The stem cells will carry the same disease or cancer, and therefore are not able to treat it. They would need a donation, preferably from a sibling, who will be a close genetic match to them. 


In many cases, siblings can use another sibling’s cord blood. After themselves, siblings provide the second highest chance of a genetic match – with a 75% chance of being a partial match and a 25% chance of being a perfect match. Cells4Life has provided many releases that have gone to siblings.

Can you use cord blood for other family members? 

Technically yes parents and other family members can use stem cells from other members of their family. But it is somewhat trickier. As the recipient, they will need to be compatible with certain proteins from the baby. These are called human leukocyte antigens (HLAs). For the best chance, you need to be a close partial match.

The website Verywell Healthexplains: “HLA typing looks at certain factors related to the immune system. The test can help figure out if a person can safely donate bone marrow, cord blood, or an organ to someone who needs a transplant.”

HLA testing needs to take place to determine compatibility. If the cells are too mismatched the recipient can develop graft-versus-host disease. This is where the donor cells start to attack the immunocompromised cells of the recipient.


The further away in the family tree, the less likely that you can use that baby’s stem cells as the chances of even partially matching get smaller.


How to get the sample released?

If you ever need to have a sample released from a private cord blood bank the process is simple.

If you choose to store with Cells4Life, all you will need to do is get in contact with us via phone or email and we will send over the release forms. Once these forms are complete, we will need permission to liaise with your doctor. We will ensure that all the requirements are in place and provide the specific volume of blood needed for the treatment.

Finally, we will arrange the transport and ensure your sample is kept at the correct temperature to maintain optimum conditions for your cells.

The further away in the family tree, the less likely that you can use that baby’s stem cells as the chances of even partially matching get smaller.


Can I donate my baby’s cord blood instead of storing it privately?

If private storage is not for you, you can also donate your baby’s cord blood to a public bank. This will then be used by individuals in need of transplants or in some cases it will be used for research.

Donated cord blood stem cells don’t need to be a perfect match to their receiver; however, they still need to be at least a partial match. According to the NHS, this is because: “The stem cells in cord blood aren’t mature, so can develop to suit their recipient.” 

You can currently donate at eight NHS hospitals – three standalone, and five which work in partnerships with the Anthony Nolan Trust.


Does Cells4Life accept cord blood donations?

Cells4Life Foundation has established a partnership with Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust and is now able to offer a cord blood donation service at Epsom Hospital and St Helier Hospital. Read more on our Cord Blood Donation page. 


Request a Welcome Pack

Find out more about cord blood banking by downloading a Welcome Pack now.


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