We've gotten lots of information about cord blood donation from private banks over the last few months of my pregnancy, all coming from places in the United States. I didn't get any in Italy or in France, so I'm assuming they mostly do public donation.
We are big believers in doing things for the good of everyone in society when possible, so we've decided to donate our cord blood to a public bank. I hope we'll never have any need for it, but I did ask the pediatrician for her opinion. She told me that since we have no family history of diseases that require cord blood for treatment (which there are only a few rare ones now), it is safe to assume that most people won't need their babies' cord blood.
I found a website about donation and found that my hospital does participate, so they are sending me a kit. I hope our cord blood is usable and maybe it will even be used to help someone. Please go look at the website or pass it on to friends if they're pregnant. The best time to do it is before 34 weeks, so they have time to mail the information and the collection kit.
In case you didn't see my post about organ donation, I'm also a big supporter of that, as well. Go check out this website for more information and tell your family that you want to donate your organs and tissues if anything would happen. We did it when my Dad passed and it was one of the best decisions we've made.