DETROIT - Metro Detroit women who are pregnant will have a decision to make before their child is born, do they have that child's umbilical cord blood stored so it can be used to save lives?
DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital announced Monday that it is one of the first hospitals in this region to launch an umbilical cord blood banking program. Since the program launched on October 15, eight mothers have agreed to participate.
The banking program would be used to treat those diagnosed with cancer and serious blood disorders. Among those to benefit from cord blood transplants will be adults and children diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease.
"In the past, umbilical cords were just thrown away," said Dr. L. Andrea Coleman, OB/GYN chief at DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital. "It's wasteful. Now, blood can be collected from the cord after it is removed from the baby and placed in a national match program. It would be huge to be able to use that cord blood instead of throwing it away."
Cord blood cells can be used to treat life-threatening diseases including blood and immune system-related genetic diseases, cancers and blood disorders.
"More patients are able to get transplants with the cord blood because it doesn't need to match the tissue the way bone marrow does," Coleman explained.
According to DMC Sinai-Grace hospital, about 50 percent of patients needing a bone marrow transplant will not find the right donor in a critical time period.
"Our hope is that every single mom who gives birth at Sinai-Grace chooses to donate the cord blood," Coleman said. "You can not only give birth, but you can give hope."
The cord bank program is free and voluntary.
Sinai-Grace said it is working with the J.P. McCarthy Cord Stem Cell Bank at the Karmanos Cancer Institute. It is one of only a few internationally recognized cord stem cell banks affiliated with the National Marrow Donor Program. For more information , click here.
What is cord blood?
What exactly is cord blood? The Cord Blood Registry (CBR) states, "Cord blood is the blood that remains in your newborn's umbilical cord after birth. Cord blood is an invaluable source of a pristine type of stem cell that can be used in a variety of medical treatments."
Doctors and medical experts realize the power of newborn stem cells and are recommending family banking to their patients.
History of family illness
Cord blood is used today to treat many life-threatening diseases including leukemia, certain other cancers, and blood, immune, and metabolic disorders. Your baby's cord blood could be a valuable medical resource for your family.
Therapies in Development
Current clinical trials are using cord blood in treatments for conditions that can't be predicted based on a family history of disease—like brain injury and acquired hearing loss. For many parents, the future potential of newborn stem cells is a compelling reason to bank.
Concern about finding a donor match
Ethnic minorities and people of mixed race are at risk of not finding a match using a public bank. Although family banking does not guarantee a match, saving for all of your children increases the likelihood that they may be able to help each other.
Adopting a newborn or using donor egg/sperm
When adopting or using donor egg or sperm, you may not have access to a biologically related family member. If your child needs stem cell treatments in the future, banking could be especially valuable.
If you decide to bank your baby's blood there are a few different companies that will do it so I recommend talking to your mommy friends about who they used and liked. The company sends you a kit to bring with you to the hospital. You give the kit to your nurse and the blood will be collected just after birth. A short time later a representative from the bank will pick up the kit, however you won't even realize it because the hospital staff will take care of that for you while you're enjoying your new baby!
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