MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Newborns could solve dozens of medical problems, right here on the Gulf Coast. July is National Cord Blood Awareness Month, and mothers can now donate cord blood locally at Mobile Infirmary and USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital. It’s the first time new moms who give birth in our area are getting the opportunity to donate umbilical cord blood to a local, community blood bank.
USA Health Children’s and Women’s was the first hospital to implement a cord blood donation program in the upper Gulf Coast region. Before that, the closest hospital offering the option was in Montgomery.
Cord blood contains stem cells, and it’s being used to help treat certain blood, immune, and metabolic disorders, as well as cancers. It can be used to treat a number of diseases, such as Sickle Cell, Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and Tay Sachs. Now research is underway to see what else it can be used for.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of uses that come out with stem cells and I think we’re just scratching the surface,” said Dr. Carey Winkler, Maternal-Fetal Physician at USA Health.
Doctors say it’s easy and safe for new mothers to donate umbilical cord blood.
“Once the cord is clamped then in the past we would just take the placenta and dispose of it. And now we’re taking the remaining blood that’s left in the placenta that would essentially just get thrown away,” said Dr. Winkler.
Because the stem cells are collected moments after birth, the cells are young and haven’t been exposed to other elements like disease or aging. And because medical experts say there is no risk to the mother or her baby when the stem cells are collected from cord blood, Bailey Shelby says she saw no reason not to donate hers when her little girl was born on May 21.
She said, “It didn’t hurt us at all. It was the easiest process possible, and it has such a great outcome and it can be used for so many different things. For really great reasons. That’s why we chose to do it.”
Shelby says she was still able to deliver little Reece Joy, just the way she planned.
“We were able to delay cord clamping so we were able to still give her the cord blood that she would’ve normally gotten right after delivery, and then my husband was still able to cut the cord after she was delivered, so it really didn’t change anything from our delivery if we wouldn’t have donated it,” she told Cherish Lombard.
Cord blood isn’t a “cure-all;” Again, it’s a treatment. But it does give doctors and patients hope. Hope for a cure. Hope for the next medical breakthrough.
“I think if people start donating they can be part of the future,” said Dr. Winkler.
Cord blood donated at USA Health is stored at a LifeSouth blood bank. The true expiration date is currently being studied. LifeSouth expires the blood after 8 years.
If you are curious if cord blood can treat your health condition, or if your an expectant mother who would like to donate, talk with your doctor.
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