March 20, 2009
The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) commends the journal Pediatrics for publishing a recent study in its March issue that adds valuable insight to the current discourse on cord blood banking.
The study evaluates pediatric transplant physicians' recommendations on the private banking of umbilical cord blood. A majority of the physicians surveyed support banking when there is a sibling with a diagnosed medical condition that could be treated with a transplant of cord blood from the new baby.
A program recently implemented by the NMDP and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) offers these families the opportunity to have the cord blood of a new baby collected and stored at no cost. The cord blood then may be used to treat the affected biological sibling who has the diagnosed disease, which can include leukemia, lymphoma, a sickle cell disorder, an immune deficiency or a metabolic disease.
"Our mission at the NMDP is to expand treatment options to all patients in need of a potentially life-saving transplant," said Kathy Welte, director of the NMDP's Center for Cord Blood. "An estimated 5,000 families could benefit from the Related Donor Cord Blood Program each year."
Additionally, the researchers recognize that unrelated cord blood donated to public banks is "an invaluable stem cell source for both pediatric and adult patients in need of transplantation." The established and rapidly growing use of publicly donated cord blood is helping to treat thousands of patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases.
As the nation's Cord Blood Coordinating Center, the NMDP manages a network of public cord blood banks that cover the costs to collect, test and store donated cord blood. There is no cost to the donor. Increased donations to public banks can help more patients receive transplants - especially patients of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
"Parents need accurate, objective information to make educated decisions for their family. This study is a vital resource for expectant parents weighing the decision to privately bank or publically donate their babies' cord blood," said Welte.
Patients, families and health care professionals can contact case managers at the NMDP Office of Patient Advocacy to determine eligibility for the Related Donor Cord Blood Program and be referred to a participating cord blood bank. To learn more, call 1 (888) 999-6743 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about donating to a public cord blood bank is available at www.marrow.org/cord.
About The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)
The NMDP facilitates unrelated marrow and cord blood transplants as a single point of access for a long-standing collaborative network of national and international leading medical facilities in marrow and cord blood transplantation. The NMDP connects patients, doctors, donors and researchers to the resources they need to help more people live longer and healthier lives. For more information visit www.marrow.org/cord or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.