Giving Birth Donate Record Number of Life-Saving Umbilical Cord
giving birth at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical
Center and The Brooklyn Hospital Center—both members of the New
York-Presbyterian Healthcare System—voluntarily donated a record
number of life-saving umbilical cord bloods to New York Blood
Center’s National Cord Blood Program last year, representing 41
percent of the Program’s one-year cord blood donations. The Program,
the largest public cord blood bank in the world, provides half
of all unrelated cord bloods for transplant. Patients worldwide
have benefited from cord blood treatments for diseases such as
late-stage leukemia, and scientists use cord blood to research
promising new treatments. In effect, many mothers are now giving
their “gift of life” twice.
In 2002, New York Weill Cornell Medical Center and The Brooklyn
Hospital Center donated 1,779 cord bloods to The National Cord
Blood Program, with 929 from New York Weill Cornell and the remaining
850 from The Brooklyn Hospital Center. Additionally, the largest
single-month cord blood donation in the history of New York Blood
Center (238 cord bloods) was made by New York Weill Cornell and
The Brooklyn Hospital Center last October. And an impressive 98
percent of mothers giving birth at New York-Presbyterian Hospital
Weill Cornell Medical Center have chosen to donate their cord
These cord bloods have been used in life-saving transplant operations
worldwide, from New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City
to hospitals as far a field as Alabama and Brazil. Hospitals are
also using cord bloods in research that may one day treat such
diseases as diabetes and heart disease.
Cord blood, a source of “younger” stem cells, is commonly used
as an alternative to bone marrow transplants. According to The
Journal of the American Medical Association, each year as many
as 15,000 Americans who need bone marrow transplants are unable
to find suitable donors. Unlike bone marrow, cord blood transplants
do not require as strict a genetic match, and cord blood is available
Dr. Michael Schuster, Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill
Cornell Medical College and Director of the Bone Marrow and Blood
Stem Cell Transplant Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital
Weill Cornell Medical Center, initiated the cord blood program
at Weill Cornell along with Dr. Joan Kent, Clinical Instructor
of Medicine and Assistant Attending Physician at New York Weill
mothers now have the chance to give life twice,” said Dr. Kent.
“In the past, umbilical cord blood was not used. We now know that
this blood is far too valuable to go to waste. A mother can donate
her cord blood to the public cord blood bank, or save it for the
rare case that a family member may benefit from its use.” Similar
to a regular blood bank, cord blood is frozen and kept for future
Dr. Schuster has performed numerous life-saving cord blood transplants.
Commonly, patients with late-stage leukemia will search in vain
for six months or more for bone marrow. Cord blood can be available
within 24 hours. After a cord blood transplant and recovery, complete
remission is standard.
Dr. Schuster is also one of several New York-Presbyterian physician-scientists
currently researching future treatments that use cord blood, such
as gene therapy and cell regeneration. These experimental therapies
will potentially benefit treatment of a wide variety of diseases,
including heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, muscular dystrophy,
spinal cord injury, and stroke.#
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