Moms and babies saving lives one cord blood donation at a time


As an expectant parent, perhaps you’ve heard about preserving your newborn’s umbilical cord blood, and educated yourself on the pros and cons of both private banking and public donation. If you’ve decided to privately bank, you select a bank, and start working directly with that company’s representative. If you’ve decided that public donation is the way to go, it’s easy to do so if you’re delivering at TMC for Women. Tucson Medical Center is proud to be the only hospital in Southern Arizona that’s part of the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program, administered by the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission.

Donated umbilical cord blood is available on the Be The Match registry, which helps those with life-threatening diseases find potential stem cell matches for transplant.

Donating your baby’s cord blood as part of this program is free

Donating does not require you to do anything ahead of time. It’s best to discuss cord blood donation with your health care provider. If you haven’t decided before you arrive at TMC for Women in labor, you still have time to make that decision. All you have to do is tell your labor & delivery nurse that you want to participate in the program, and our dedicated cord blood team will take care of the rest.

TMC for Women’s Cord Blood Coordinator: Kristen Wilt

Kristen has been a labor and delivery nurse for 24 years, including the last eleven years here at TMC for Women and oversees the program as TMC for Women’s cord blood coordinator. “I’m so excited to be a part of this amazing program. As a labor nurse, I’ve been well aware of the powerful, life-saving benefits of cord blood stem cells for many years now. It’s been so difficult to watch the potential to save a life just go into the garbage, day after day! This is such an easy way for expectant moms to give back. Can you imagine how special it would be to one day tell your child that they saved a life on the day that they were born? I wish that I had had that opportunity.”

How does it work?

Once you tell your labor and delivery nurse that you want to donate this precious life-saving resource, one of the consenters will come visit you in your room. They’ll help educate you and answer any questions you may have.

Collecting the baby’s cord blood does not change your labor or delivery, and it does not hurt the mom or the baby. “Typically, as soon as we educate parents about publicly donating their baby’s cord blood, they’re on board with it. Sometimes families instantly say, ‘I don’t want to do that,’ but if they allow us to explain it, their reaction is, ‘Oh – that’s not what I thought it was.’ And then they decide to participate,” said Wilt.

Remember, to participate in this program, you must be at least 18 years old, at least 36 weeks along in your pregnancy, and be pregnant with only one baby.

The consenter will also go over any items that may exclude you from participating in the program. It’s similar to the questions that are asked of you when you give blood. Since cord blood is considered a blood product by the FDA, and it may be transplanted into a very sick person, you can understand why every precaution must be made to ensure the cord blood is free from disease and contamination.

After the baby is delivered, your provider clamps the umbilical cord, sterilizes a small patch where the collection will happen, and then collects the blood. They will try to get as much blood as they can, but remember – since the cord has already been clamped, the collection does not impact the baby in any way. Then, mom delivers the placenta. The entire collection process takes just a few minutes, and since it happens between when the baby and the placenta come out, it does not interfere with the birthing process. How the baby is delivered does not make a difference for this donation program.

Moms who have vaginal births and those who undergo cesarean sections can donate.

The consenter then takes the blood into a special room inside TMC for Women’s labor and delivery area where the collection is weighed, labeled and put into a container that keeps it at the proper temperature. Then a courier takes the donation to Tucson International Airport to be flown to the cord blood bank where it will be processed and stored.

Donating your baby’s cord blood as part of this program is free, safe and confidential. In the event a TMC baby’s blood is selected for transplant, TMC will receive notification with very limited information on it, including where the cord blood was shipped and the name of the disease it was used to treat.

In the few years the Arizona Public Cord Program has existed, 50 cords have been selected for transplant, which means 50 lives were saved because of this program.

For more information about the program, please click here, or contact Kristen Wilt at (520) 324-6210 or Kristen.Wilt@tmcaz.com.

Incredible reward at no cost – How cord blood donations are changing lives at TMC

Cord Blood Kristen Wilt

Cord blood donations can enhance and save lives, and do even more – providing donors and their families with the uplifting benefit of knowing their cord blood gift will have a positive impact for years to come.

“My brother-in-law passed away from a rare blood disorder when he was just 19,” said Stephanie Babcock, a mom who recently donated the cord blood from her baby Midori at TMC. “It’s so rewarding to know our donation can save someone like my brother-in-law – we know what it means to that person and their family.”

What is cord blood?

What exactly is cord blood and why is it so beneficial?

“Cord blood is the blood that is left inside the umbilical cord and placenta after a baby is born,” said Kristen Wilt, cord blood coordinator at TMC. “It is so important because it contains blood-forming stem cells that can be used in blood transfusions to heal or repair damaged cells that cause serious diseases.”

Saving and improving lives

Wilt explained cord blood stem cells are used to treat more than 80 life-threatening diseases, which include many forms of cancer, as well as immune and genetic disorders. “Acute myeloid leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and sickle cell anemia to name just a few,” Wilt said.

Cord Blood 4Blood transplants can have a significant and permanent effect for individuals facing specific debilitating and severe health challenges, she explained. “By and large, the treatments can cure many diseases or have a significant impact that dramatically improves the quality of life for the recipient.”

How donation works

Wilt said the process is quick, easy, and it is free. “At TMC the mom and family are asked if they would like to donate the cord blood immediately after birth,” explained Wilt. “There is one simple consent form to sign and a health history questionnaire to review and you’re done – you’ve just created a life-saving possibility for someone.”

Participation in the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program is growing, but currently available only in a few Arizona hospitals. “It made a great impression on us that TMC was the only hospital in Southern Arizona who offers cord blood donation,” said donor Babcock. “It can seem like a small thing but has such an incredible impact.”

Cord blood donations from TMC have gone to help patients all over the United States and as far away as Australia.

Safety and anonymity

Donating cord blood poses no risk to the baby or mom because the cord blood is collected after the birth, when the placenta and umbilical cord are no longer needed.

The hospital assigns a number to each donation so that it is received and tracked by the public cord blood bank anonymously.

“We did our research,” said Babcock. “We had no concerns about safety or privacy – TMC made it a simple, easy part of the birthing experience.”

Cord Blood 3

Where it goes and how it helps

For the past four years, TMC has worked with the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program and has provided almost 5,000 cord blood donations.

“Within 48 hours, the cord blood is delivered to the University of Colorado Cord Blood Bank (an FDA-licensed facility), where it is cryopreserved in liquid nitrogen tanks,” said Wilt. “This process conserves the stem cells in the blood for a very long time – donations have been used after 20-25 years.”

The donation becomes part of the national registry managed by NMDP/Be the Match registry. “Worldwide, patients of all ages who are in need can work with the registry to determine if they are a match,” Wilt said.

Why your donation matters, for others and for you

Some moms and families decide to save and privately store their baby’s cord blood. However, the cryopreservation process and on-going storage fees can be cost-prohibitive. “If cord blood is not donated, it is disposed of as medical waste – and it is truly a waste,” said Wilt.

Donating cord blood has such significance because finding a match can be very difficult. “About 70 percent of people in need are not able to find a match from their family,” Wilt said. “More cord blood donations means a greater chance that someone in need will find a match.”

For Babcock, making the donation was more than a fulfilling gesture. “It’s not a big sacrifice, and it changes your life just knowing that you could save an adult or child who is fighting a deadly disease.”

Cord Blood 1For more information about cord blood donations, contact Kristen Wilt at (520) 324-6210 or visit the Save the Cord Foundation website.

TMC baby provides life-saving stem cells to a child with leukemia through cord blood donation program

Somewhere in the Tucson area, there’s a 10-month-old baby who was born at Tucson Medical Center last spring and provided life-saving stem cells to a patient who had no other treatment options.

And somewhere in Colorado, that patient – a child who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia – received the transfusion he or she so desperately needed.

AZPCBP_2ccThe match was made possible because of the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program, which TMC joined in October 2014. The program also includes three Phoenix-area hospitals and gives expectant parents the option to donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood – which is rich in stem cells – if they’re not going to pay to have it privately banked and don’t want it to go to waste. Donated cord blood is listed on the Be The Match national registry.

Since the program’s inception in 2011, 30 life-saving matches have been made including this one – the first match for TMC.

Maya

Maya Adams

The baby was delivered by Maya Adams, a midwife with El Rio Community Health Center. “It gives me goose bumps to think how we have been able to give hope to that family in Colorado,” said Adams, who credits the donor family and TMC for the match. “I’m just happy to have helped make a difference.”

And for Adams, the news is bittersweet. Her father passed away from leukemia a year and a half ago after he ran out of treatment options.

“This family in Colorado is so blessed to have the opportunity to have a different outcome than my father had,” she said.

Nurse Erica Schroyer and cord blood consenter Ali Baker were also part of the collection.

Erica

Erica Schroyer

When Schroyer received word about the match, she was really moved. “Our nursing staff saves lives and changes lives for the better every day, and it is a blessing every time. With the cord blood donation program, we offer our patient families that incredible opportunity to save a life as well.”

Baker added, “I was so excited to learn that one of our cord blood units was used for transplant! It is so encouraging to know that the selfless generosity of this donor family combined with our efforts has made all the difference in the world to a leukemia patient and their family. The positive ripple effect our program creates is truly immeasurable, and I’m looking forward to more matches in 2016.”

IMG_5447

Ali Baker

According to Be The Match, cord blood is rich in stem cells and can often be used in place of bone marrow. A transplant replaces a patient’s unhealthy cells with healthy ones. Bone marrow requires a near perfect match – seven or eight out of eight markers. But cord blood only requires four out of six markers be matched. Also with cord blood, if a matching unit is identified, the patient can receive that blood in mere days. With bone marrow, it may take weeks or more as the donor is located and the preparation work is done. And finally, cord blood transplant recipients are less likely to get graft-versus-host disease after their transplant. The disease presents itself in the form of a rash all over the patient’s body.

“We are so appreciative to Maya and all of our providers who have helped make this program so successful, so quickly,” said Kristen Wilt, TMC cord blood coordinator. “As part of this program, we are asking providers to collect this blood out of the goodness of their hearts. While it only takes a few minutes to do, it does require extra effort and skill. This match is proof that investing in that little extra time after delivery can have a tremendous impact.“

The program is free for patients, and everything is kept confidential. Since a patient’s privacy is protected, no other details about the baby or the recipient will be made available.

The Save the Cord Foundation, a Tucson-based nonprofit, is proud to partner with the program and be the voice for unbiased cord blood education and awareness.

More information about the program can be found by clicking here.

Click here to see a new video about Dylan Praskins, an Arizona boy whose life was saved because of donated cord blood.

 

Having a baby? TMC’s Labor & Delivery receives top honors by Arizona Daily Star readers

BDP35955TMC’s Labor & Delivery was named Best Birthing Center by a recent poll of Arizona Daily Star readers. Readers’ Choice awards also went to TMC for Best Hospital, Best Surgical Weight Loss and Best Emergency Department.

More than 5,000 babies are born at TMC every year. In fact, physicians at TMC delivered 5,527 babies in 2014. With all private rooms, laboring mothers can enjoy walking around the unit while using telemetry fetal monitoring.

Expectant moms know that they and their newborns are in good hands, around the clock. Labor & Delivery has dedicated perinatologists, neonatologists and anesthesiologists who are in house 24-hours a day as well as a level III Newborn Intensive Care Unit that provides advanced care for premature, low birth-weight and critically ill infants.

TMC is also the only hospital in Southern Arizona to participate in the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program, giving expectant parents the option to publicly donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood. Donated cord blood that meets a certain set of criteria will be included on the Be The Match national registry where it could save the life of someone with a life-threatening disease who needs a stem cell transplant.

TMC promotes the “Golden Hour” – an hour of skin-to-skin contact with mom and baby for the first hour after birth – as well as 24-hour rooming so that baby never leaves mom’s room unless medically necessary.

Inpatient lactation services are also available seven days a week to help new moms get the hang of breastfeeding. Seven registered nurses who are international board-certified lactation consultants are dedicated to helping women breastfeed their newborns. But the support TMC offers doesn’t stop when baby goes home. Outpatient lactation services are available seven days a week for moms who need extra breastfeeding support, regardless of where they delivered. TMC’s many childbirth classes are noted as the best in the community and are also available to all women, again – regardless of where they will deliver.

Getting babies home safely is also a priority. TMC has had a car seat program for more than 30 years. This includes a car seat loaner program, a special needs car seat program, Children Are Priceless Passengers (C.A.P.P.) in which parents receive education and an appropriate seat for their child for only $35 as well as Boost Your Booty, which offers free booster seats for children over age 5 who weigh more than 40 pounds.

For more information about TMC’s Maternity Services, please click here.

Thank you, Tucson, for trusting us with your growing family.

TMC collects 1,000th unit of publicly donated umbilical cord blood

AZPCBP_2ccTucson Medical Center and the Save the Cord Foundation are proud to announce that TMC has collected the 1,000th unit of umbilical cord blood as part of the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program. TMC is one of four hospitals in Arizona, and the only hospital in Southern Arizona, to give expectant parents the option to donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood as part of this program.

Since the program’s inception, 28 cord blood units have been selected for patients in need of a life-saving stem cell transplant.

Donated cord blood that meets a certain set of criteria will be included on the Be The Match national registry where it could save the life of someone with a life-threatening disease who needs a stem cell transplant.

Noncontroversial umbilical cord blood is a precious resource to a patient in need of a life-saving stem cell transplant. This blood is rich in stem cells, which can renew themselves and grow into mature blood cells. It’s been proven to cure and treat as many as 80 diseases, and can be used for transplantation for adult and pediatric patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening blood diseases. More than 22,000 patients around the world have received transplants from donations to public cord blood banks.

Donating cord blood does not hurt the mother or the baby. It does not change a woman’s labor or delivery, and donation to a public bank is free. TMC started offering this program Oct. 1, 2014.

Amy Vasquez and Chris Colbert with baby Hailey

Amy Vasquez and Chris Colbert with baby Hailey

The 1,000th unit of cord blood was collected from Hailey Vasquez who was born at TMC on Nov. 5 to parents Amy Vasquez and Chris Colbert. They said when they were approached by one of TMC’s cord blood consenters, their decision to participate in the program was easy. “I’m amazed that something that is so quick, easy and safe to collect may be so beneficial to somebody else,” said Colbert. “I’m in awe that my beautiful, healthy daughter who just came into the world may save someone’s life someday, just by being born.”

“We are thrilled at the success of our program in its first year,” said Kristen Wilt, TMC cord blood coordinator. “We feel so fortunate to have the support of Tucson’s nonprofit community hospital, two dedicated consenters who are on the front line of this program, and wonderful physicians who champion this effort. They take the time to collect this blood because they believe in our mission and know it’s better than having it discarded as medical waste.”

The Save the Cord Foundation, a Tucson-based nonprofit, is proud to partner with the program and be the voice for unbiased cord blood education and awareness.

“Establishing this program at TMC is a dream come true,” said Charis Ober, founder of the Save the Cord Foundation. “On the Be The Match registry, there is a significant shortage of blood from Hispanic, black, mixed ethnicity and Native Americans. The demographic TMC serves, and the number of babies delivered there – more than 5,500 in 2014 – has the potential to make a significant positive impact on the national registry, essentially giving more people a better chance at finding a match. This program is our passion, and we couldn’t ask for a better hospital partner.”

TMC is one of four Arizona hospitals supported by the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program.

More information about the program can be found at http://www.tmcaz.com/cord-blood-donation-program.

19 lives saved, and counting: Cord Blood Awareness Month draws attention to benefits of Arizona Public Cord Blood Program

Proclamation_CordBloodAwarenessMonth_July2015[1]Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has signed a proclamation making the month of July Cord Blood Awareness Month. The proclamation generates attention about stem-cell-rich umbilical cord blood and how the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program, which TMC is a part of, is saving lives.

Each year, thousands of patients in the United States are diagnosed with a blood cancer or other life-threatening disease. Umbilical cord blood is a prime source of blood stem cells and can be a precious resource to a patient in need of a stem-cell transplant, since the cells can renew themselves and grow into mature blood cells. The advancement has proven to cure and treat as many as 80 diseases. The blood can be collected, stored and made available for transplant to children and adults with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia or lymphoma.

TMC is one of four hospitals in the state, and the only hospital in Southern Arizona, to offer this option to expectant parents as part of this program. The program also partners with the Tucson-based, nonprofit Save the Cord Foundation, which provides education. The Arizona Public Cord Blood Program is funded by the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission. There is no cost to families who choose to publicly donate their baby’s cord blood through this program.

“This proclamation highlights a special program that provides a lifeline to patients in need,” the governor said. “The generous gift of cord blood increases the odds of survival for cancer patients and gives researchers a chance to find a cure for genetic disease.”

Collecting the blood does not hurt the mother or the baby or change a woman’s labor or delivery. “This is a way for parents to give the gift of health to others in need,” said TMC Cord Blood Coordinator Kristen Wilt. “It’s one of the easiest ways to make a positive impact on the lives of others.”

One Arizona mom calls the decision to publicly donate a baby’s cord blood, “The best gift a mother can give another mother.”

Since the program’s inception in 2011, 19 cords have been selected for transplant in Arizona, meaning 19 lives have been saved. Since TMC signed on to the program in October 2014, roughly 600 units of cord blood have been collected.

For more information about how to donate your newborn’s cord blood at TMC, please click here.


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