Donating Cord Blood
I know about Cord Blood banks from reading brochures in the waiting room of my gynecologist's office. You save the blood from your baby's umbilical cord in a bank just in case those stem cells could come in handy later in life. These stem cells can be used to treat your child for almost 80 diseases, such as leukemia and lymphoma, and will be a match for someone else in your family as well. Not everyone banks their baby's cord blood; it can be expensive.
I had not thought about cord blood donation, though, until the birth that I went to two weeks ago. Donating cord blood increases the public supply of stem cells so that people in need may be able to find a match in the registry, like you would if you were looking for an organ transplant. Donating cord blood is no different than saving it for yourself in a cord blood bank and neither choice is invasive or harmful; the doctor takes blood from the cord, not you or the baby. Its something to think about doing, as it doesn't cost you to donate and the hospital will throw it away otherwise. And you could help save someone's life!
Donate Umbilical Cord Blood: National Marrow Donor Program
Parents Guide to Cord Blood Foundation
Donating Breast Milk
In case you haven't figured it out by now from reading my blog, I am a big supporter of breastfeeding and a huge fan of breast milk. If babies are orphaned or adopted, or mom cannot make enough milk, a donation of breast milk is the best thing to give them. Over formula. Definitely over cow's milk. If a baby is premature and mom hasn't begun producing milk yet, or if a baby is ill and mom has stopped breastfeeding and therefore is no longer producing milk, donated breast milk can come to the rescue!
There is such a thing as a Breast Milk Bank that you can donate to. They are not in every state in the U.S. but I think the interest is growing. Any nursing mother who is producing milk in excess of her own baby's needs can donate - the bank will ask you questions about your health, test your blood and test the milk. Breast milk is also pasteurized. Donation of breast milk is a great thing, especially for babies in need in developing countries. For instance, there was a big call for donated breast milk for children in Haiti after the earthquake.
If you're interested in donating your breast milk:
Human Milk Banking Association of North America
International Breast Milk Project