St. David's now collects 'life-saving' cord blood

St. David's South Austin Medical Center became a certified cord blood collection site in January when it joined the cord blood collection program of the Texas Cord Blood Bank.

Umbilical cord blood, which is typically discarded after the birth of a baby, contains blood-making cells that can be used as an alternative to bone marrow transplants to treat cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, disorders of the blood-making system such as sickle cell anemia and severe immune system disorders.

In 2001, the Texas Legislature established the nonprofit program TCBB, a division of the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, to collect umbilical cord blood. Patients do not have to pay to participate.

The process for extracting cord blood and filling out donation paperwork takes about 30 minutes and requires little risk, according to Vicki Gloria, supervisor for labor and delivery. She explained patients do not have to pay to participate, but they must fill out forms and undergo a screening process to determine whether their donation meets required standards for entering into a blood bank.

"Only about 1 in 10 collections truly meet the standards for banking, so we do a lot of work to get just a few, but just one donation can really make a difference for somebody," Gloria said.

"This program has the potential to save the lives of patients in Central Texas and beyond," said Todd Steward, CEO of St. David's South Austin Medical Center, in a news release.



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