True Blood

By Janet Christenbury

Patients who deliver their babies at Emory University Hospital Midtown will now be given the opportunity to bank their umbilical cord blood, at no cost, to help others. Cord blood, normally discarded following delivery, can be used to save lives by treating certain blood diseases and disorders, including leukemia and sickle-cell anemia.

Each year, twenty thousand children and adults are diagnosed with a life-threatening blood disorder for which a bone marrow or stem cell transplant is necessary.

Midtown is partnering with the Cleveland Cord Blood Center, which was established in 2007 and collects more than four thousand units of cord blood annually.

Carla Roberts, associate professor in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics and chief of the ob/gyn service at Midtown, says blood cells remaining in the placenta and umbilical cord after the baby is born are capable of developing into new bone marrow.

Patients who are expecting a single baby and are at least thirty-four weeks pregnant will be asked if they want to donate their baby’s cord blood, which, if it meets certain criteria, will be listed with the National Marrow Donor Program registry. Patients can still opt to privately bank their infant’s cord blood following delivery, for a fee.

The Abraham J. and Phyllis Katz Foundation, a foundation that supports organizations that provide innovative advances in medical research related to illness, disease, or wellness, is supporting this public cord-banking effort.

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