Past Assignments, pr writing

Backgrounder – What Happens to the Umbilical Cord After it’s Cut?

The following text is an example of a backgrounder I was assigned to write in a Public Relations Writing course. The proposed client was the National Cord Blood Program, and I was tasked with writing the copy for a brochure with a Flesch Readability Level between sixth and seventh grade (the current reading level for the general American public). My source for the copy was the NCBP website:

The Answer is Up to You!

Congratulations, you’re going to have a baby! Choosing what happens to your umbilical cord is probably not one of the first things that comes to mind when you think about parenthood, but it is an important one. As a mother, you have the option to have the cord disposed of after you have the baby, or to donate it to a cord blood bank such as the National Cord Blood Program.

What is the National Cord Blood Program?

The New York Blood Center started the National Cord Blood Program (NCBP) in 1992 to help people who required a bone marrow transplant for treatment but could not find any matching donors. Today, NCBP has banked the most units of cord blood of any non-profit public bank. The program has collected over 60,000 units of blood and given over 5,300 units to people in need of transplants.

NCBP is set on giving the best possible cord blood to its patients. This mission is supported by NCBP being the first cord blood bank to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The program has staff on-hand at hospitals around the U.S. Once the cord blood is collected, it is frozen and stored until it is needed by a patient. Staff in the lab hand-pick each unit for the person in need and it is shipped to the hospital of the patient seeking a transplant.

Why Cord Blood?

Umbilical cord blood, called cord blood for short, has proven to be a good choice for many medical uses for a few different reasons. First, it is easy to collect and store. After your baby is delivered it no longer needs the cord. In the past, this tissue and blood was thrown away, but we now know it can be stored and used for its stem cells.

Secondly, the stem cells found in cord blood make red and white blood cells the same way that stem cells from bone marrow do. Using these stem cells for transplants is becoming more common. This is really important for patients who suffer from diseases related to their blood, immune system or genetics. Once the cells are given to the patient they will begin replacing the diseased cells and making healthy new blood cells. So far, cord blood has been proven to help fight over 80 different illnesses.


Q: Will donating affect me or my baby?

A: No. Cord blood is only collected once the cord is cut and your baby is delivered.

Q: Does it cost any money to donate?

A: No. The National Cord Blood Program is entirely free for the donor.

Q: How do I become a donor?

A: You may plan to have your baby at one of the NCBP hospitals (a list can be found at If there is not a NCBP site near you, talk to your doctor about giving your cord blood.

Q: What will my cord blood be used for?

A: The blood and stem cells will be stored until NCBP finds a patient that matches with you. That person will be given the blood and stem cells so that their body can start making healthy new blood cells. So far, cord blood has helped people with over 80 different diseases.

Q: What happens to the cord blood if I choose not to donate?

A: Your hospital will dispose of any blood and tissue after the baby is delivered if you choose not to have it donated.

For more information, visit:

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