View Full Version : Newborn donors give gift of life with umbilical cord stem cells

10-11-2005, 03:43 PM

Newborn donors give gift of life with umbilical cord stem cells

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

By Patricia Anstett

Copyright © 2005 AP Wire

Peter Bernard Storm started life as a big contributor. Someday, he may save a life.

One minute after his birth last month at Detroit's St. John Hospital & Medical Center, Dr. Carl Buccellato collected the blood from Peter's umbilical cord for a public cord blood registry at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.

"It would be great if this could help someone else," said Kathy Storm, 35, of Sterling Heights, Mich., as she held her healthy, 9-pound baby boy.

Most hospitals discard cord blood after a baby's birth, despite the fact that the blood contains stem cells that can be used in transplants for as many as 80 serious medical problems. Those include the most prevalent types of leukemia, metabolic disorders like Tay-Sachs disease, blood-related conditions such as sickle cell anemia and severe anemia problems.

Now, major changes are under way, here and nationally, that will make cord blood donations to public banks for potential transplant use much more likely.

Pending national legislation, the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 would create a unified national registry and provide $10 million for collection for public cord blood banking, making it much easier for expecting parents to allow their newborns to be donors like Peter Storm. The legislation awaits action by the full Senate.

Most Greater Waterbury area hospitals, including Waterbury Hospital, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, New Milford Hospital, St. Mary's Hospitals and Griffin Hospital, do not donate to a public registry but accommodate patients who wish to store umbilical cord blood, which is a growing number of patients.

Waterbury Hospital estimates that between 10 and 15 percent of its patients requests to have their cord blood stored, although costs for storing cord blood run about $1,500 for the initial investment and $150 yearly.

"People literally are dying on the transplant list who could be cured with this," said Dr. Brian Mason, the St. John obstetrician/gynecologist who approached the Storm family of Sterling Heights 10 minutes before the birth to ask them to contribute Peter's cord blood to a public registry.

Each year, 9,000 Americans -- one-third of them children -- die waiting for a transplant because there are no matches in national registries, according to National Bone Marrow Program's Cord Blood Bank Network.

Families, of course, can store the cord blood of their newborns through private banks for their own use, but the option is costly and considered to have a slim chance it might be used someday, unless the family carries a genetic disease.

Once donated to a public bank, cord blood may be tapped for transplant by anyone in the world, as long as blood types match. Families contributing to public registries can't be promised their baby's blood will be reserved for them. But if no one claims the blood, families are eligible to receive it.

That's exactly what happened to Allison Cisco, 12, of St. Clair Shores, Mich., a seventh-grader at South Lake Middle School.

Two weeks after her second birthday, in July 1995, Allison developed leukemia.

(This story continued on page 2 (http://www.rep-am.com/story.php?id=28652&p=1))

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