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Posted April 15, 2014

Temple establishes public cord blood donation program

Temple University Hospital has established Philadelphia’s first public cord blood donation program. New parents may donate stem cells from the otherwise-discarded umbilical-cord blood, which can help patients in need of life-saving transplants.

The Women and Infant’s Division of Temple University Hospital is partnering with the Mason Shaffer Foundation and Community Blood Services—a nonprofit organization that operates a public cord bank in New Jersey—to establish the Mason Shaffer Public Cord Blood Program at Temple.

Expectant mothers and families receive educational guidance about donating their infants’ umbilical-cord blood at no charge. Donations will be listed on the National Marrow Donor Program’s Be the Match Registry for both patients needing stem cell transplants and researchers developing new treatments.

“After a baby’s birth, and after the cord is clamped and cut, the blood remaining in a portion of the umbilical cord and the placenta is collected with no risk to baby or mother,” said Dimitrios Mastrogiannis, director of Maternal Fetal Medicine and director of Labor and Delivery in Temple University Hospital. “This cord blood is a rich source of stem cells, which can be used to treat leukemia, lymphoma, sickle-cell anemia and about 70 other cancers and diseases.”

“This cord blood is a rich source of stem cells, which can be used to treat leukemia, lymphoma, sickle-cell anemia and about 70 other cancers and diseases.”
-- Dimitrios Mastrogiannis, director of Maternal Fetal Medicine and director of Labor and Delivery in Temple University Hospital
 
He also noted that a more diverse pool of cord blood donors would help increase the chances of finding matches for those underrepresented. are underrepresented in “Ethnically diverse groups are underrepresented as cord-blood donors and have a lower chance of finding a matching donor,” he added. “Having a more diverse registry helps increase the likelihood that all patients will find a match—giving more minority patients the same chance at life as Caucasians, while also facilitating research of diseases prevalent in minority populations.  Furthermore, cord blood donation could also enhance our basic research programs on fetal and neonatal immunity.”

The new Temple program is the only one of its kind in Philadelphia and one of only a dozen statewide. It is named in honor of 5-year-old Mason Shaffer, whose life was saved by a public cord blood donation after being diagnosed as an infant with malignant infantile osteopetrosis, a life-threatening blood disorder.

“Thanks to publicly donated cord blood, our son was cured,” said Sarah Shaffer, Mason’s mother and founder of the Mason Shaffer Foundation. “Expectant parents who choose to donate their newborns’ umbilical-cord blood can save the lives of more patients like Mason who need life-saving stem-cell transplants.”
 

Posted In: Research