Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to Help Save a Life

For as long as I can remember, I've always been 100% in favor of organ donation.  I remember being excited to be able to donate blood for the first time.  Then when I was finally old enough, I was turned away because I didn't weigh enough.  I eventually gained weight and have been able to donate blood.  Yay!  I've also been turned away because my iron levels were too low.  Now, when I donate blood, I try to take an iron supplement for a couple days before.


When I found out about cord blood donation when I was pregnant with Parker, I knew I wanted to donate his cord blood.  And luckily Chris agreed. When we had Parker, we were living in the Seattle area and that made donating cord blood very easy, because there is a cord blood center there.  All I had to do was fill out a form, with similar questions to the one you fill out when donating blood, get an extra blood test (done on the day Parker was born), and answer a few questions when someone from the Puget Sound Blood Center called a couple days after Parker was born.

Fast forward, three and half years, to last Friday, when I got a call from the Puget Sound Blood Centers Cord Blood Program letting me know that Parker's cord blood was matched with a 57 year old, male, with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  I was tearing up when the lady told me.  Hopefully, Parker's cord blood will help save this mans life.  I think its really cool that they call you and let you know when they have a match.  They also wanted to know if there had been changes in our medical history since then.  It's an amazing gift to be able to give!

Because every post needs a picture...

Parker Jackson, 11-1-08

Unfortunately, we were not able to donate Ryder's cord blood.  It's not as easy in Montana and I asked my doctor about it too late in my pregnancy.  You definitely can donate cord blood in an area that doesn't have a cord blood center, but it requires a little more time and research.  Plus, I'm not even sure we could have donated Ryder's cord blood, since I contracted the Parvovirus when I was pregnant with him.  More on that here.

If you are pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant soon or know someone who is pregnant, I encourage you to look into cord blood donation.  Or donate blood or sign up to be an organ donor.

I should also mention, that you can have your baby's cord blood banked for potential future use for your family, but this is pretty costly.

And because this is the song I thought of, when I wrote this post...

Facts about Cord Blood 
(found on the Puget Sound Blood Center website)

Collection of the cord blood is a completely painless procedure that does not interfere with the birth or with mother-and-child bonding following the delivery. There is no risk either to the mother or baby and cord blood collection rarely requires Blood Center staff to be present during the baby's delivery.

What Is Cord Blood?
  • "Cord blood" is the blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta after the birth of a baby. About 2 cups of cord blood can be collected from each placenta.
  • Cord blood is rich in stem cells, which are the "parent" cells of all blood cells. These cells are found in the bone marrow of adults and in the circulatory system of infants. Cord blood stem cells can be used in place of bone marrow stem cells when a matching bone marrow donor cannot be found. Once transplanted, they migrate to the bone marrow, where they begin creating healthy blood cells. This enables the recipient to reconstitute their immune system.
  • For reasons not completely understood, patients are less likely to reject stem cells from cord blood than stem cells from donated adult bone marrow. This may be related to the immaturity of the cord blood stem cells.

Who Will Be Helped By It?

  • Because of the limited number of cells that can be collected, cord blood is primarily used for children and smaller adults. Research is currently under way to make cord blood a suitable option for a wider range of patients, including the use of multiple cord blood units for a single recipient. Many researchers are developing ways to expand the number of stem cells in a unit of cord blood. Research being performed at the Puget Sound Blood Center and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is offering hope for adults with life-threatening diseases of the blood system.
  • Cord Blood transplants are typically used to treat blood diseases, such as leukemia and aplastic anemia. The cells are transplanted after the patient's own stem cells have been destroyed by chemotherapy. The use of cord blood in transplantation has increased every year since the 1990s. To date, 25,000 cord blood transplants have been performed. (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research). With over 4 million births annually nationwide, the ready availability of cord blood could increase the number of transplants used in treating or curing these illnesses.
  • Cord blood transplantation offers hope for people without a bone marrow match, especially patients from non-Caucasian ethnic groups. Because of the lower numbers of registered bone marrow donors in ethnic communities, an African American patient, for example, may have just a 47 percent chance of finding a matching donor. A Caucasian patient may have an 80 percent chance of finding a donor. For this reason, cord blood collected from babies of non-Caucasian and mixed ethnic origins are particularly helpful.

Happy Champagne Thursday!


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