Sarah Bush Lincoln was recently recognized for its contributions to the cord blood donation program in partnership with the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank. The program is offered to women who give birth at Sarah Bush Lincoln and gives them the option to donate blood from their umbilical cords for use in treatments for leukemia, sickle cell anemia and dozens of other diseases and disorders.
Obstetrician/Gynecologist Scott Meyer, MD, was one of 15 leadership award recipients for volunteering his efforts to collect 135 cord blood units following deliveries in 2011. Obstetrician/Gynecologist Michael Benson, DO, was recognized for collecting 80 to 99 units and Obstetrician/Gynecologist Rick Miller, DO was recognized for collecting 60 to 79 units.
By offering this service, Sarah Bush Lincoln is helping to increase the supply of umbilical-cord blood units, which are rich in stem cells useful in the treatment of many conditions. Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with diseases that might be treated with a stem cell transplant. A cord blood or bone marrow transplant replaces diseased blood-forming cells with healthy cells. Cells for a transplant can come from the bone marrow of a donor or, more commonly, from a peripheral blood sample of a donor or from the blood of the umbilical cord collected after a baby is born. Sometimes the unique qualities of umbilical cord blood make it a better choice of blood-forming cells for transplant.
Each donation to the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank increases the chances that people needing a transplant can quickly find a match. Cord blood can be used to treat more than 70 different diseases.
Because cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and the placenta that is normally discarded after the baby is born, there is no harm or risk to either the mother or the baby. As a source of adult stem cells, the use of these cells from cord blood eliminates the ethical concerns surrounding more controversial sources of stem cells.
During pregnancy every woman will be asked whether she wants to donate her umbilical cord blood. After a woman has agreed and the baby is born, the umbilical cord is clamped, cut and separated from the baby. While waiting for the placenta to deliver, blood is collected from the placenta by needle through the umbilical cord and drained into a specially designed blood collection bag. The procedure is painless and non-invasive and does not interfere with the birthing process. If there is any concern about the safety of mother or baby, collection does not occur.
For more information about cord blood donations, call the SBL Women’s & Children’s Center at (217) 258-2297.