Cord blood donation program expands, giving more metro moms the opportunity to donate

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When a woman gives birth, she can potentially save a life. Beginning Thursday, many more moms in the metro have the opportunity to donate umbilical cord blood.

Some precious gifts are processed in a lab at Saint Luke's Hospital. They're cord blood donations that can be used to treat many life-threatening diseases including cancers and blood and metabolic disorders. Saint Luke's free donation program started as a result of a FOX 4 story in 2006 on a cord blood bank in St. Louis, and the fact that Kansas City at that time had no way for moms to easily donate.

"I tell my patients I hope they all donate. There's very few reasons a woman wouldn't be able to donate," said Dr. Joan Schieber, an obstetrician at Saint Luke's.

Dr. Schieber's patients have joined thousands of other women who've donated cord blood when they delivered at Saint Luke's four hospitals and at Overland Park Regional. Now the program is expanding again. Moms at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, which has the most deliveries in the metro, and at Menorah Medical Center will also be able to donate. The hope is to add at least 1,100 cord blood donations in the first year.

"This was easy," said Amy Meyer, a mother who donated five years ago when her son, Griff, was born.

Meyer says all a mom has to do is fill out some paperwork prior to delivery. Donations that have enough cells for a transplant are sent to the St. Louis bank while those that don't can still be used for research.

Meyer forgot about her donation until about 18 months later when she received a phone call. The cord blood stored in St. Louis was a match for a child somewhere in the world who had a rare blood disorder.

"You feel joy that your child's cord blood is able to help this child, and then of course extreme gratitude that you have a healthy child yourself," Meyer said.

She doesn't know if the transplant saved the child's life, but she knows it gave a child a chance. Now more moms in the metro have the opportunity to do that, too.

Doctors' groups recommend donation over paying a company to store your child's cord blood.

For more information on the cord blood donation program, please click on this link.

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