The Michigan Blood Cord Blood Bank has reached a major community service and clinical milestone, shipping out its 100th potentially lifesaving unit of stem cells from donated umbilical cord blood. This unit goes to a transplant center in the northeastern United States, where it will be transfused to a 14-year-old boy who is battling leukemia.
Michigan Blood’s Cord Blood Bank is the first public cord blood bank in Michigan, with a 12-year history of collecting, processing, banking, and distributing donated cord blood for transplantation to patients with certain blood-related diseases. It is one of only 20 such public (no fee to donate) cord blood banks in the US. Its unique inventory currently contains more than 3,600 cord blood stem cell units, 100 of which now have been sent out to transplant centers across the country and around the world.
“So far we have shipped units to transplant centers in thirty-one cities in the US, plus thirty-three cities in fifteen other countries,” said Mary Burroughs, Stem Cell Laboratory Supervisor at Michigan Blood, who heads the Cord Blood Bank team (pictured at right with Brad Bishop of Reliable Delivery). Hospitals across Michigan's Lower Peninsula participate with umbilical cord blood donation to the Michigan Blood Cord Blood Bank.
Shipment of its 100th unit is one indication of the stature that the Michigan Blood Cord Blood Bank has achieved since opening in 1999. Currently, its ratio of shipped units to available units is nearly six times the international average for facilities of this kind.
According to the National Marrow Donor Program, which operates an international database of prospective marrow donors and available cord blood stem cell units, about 10,000 patients each year are in need of transplants, but only about half that number receive the possibly lifesaving procedures. Of the many barriers that may impede transplants, inability to find a closely matched donor is a problem for many. The closest tissue-type match sometimes is available in a family member, but more often an unrelated donor must be found. The Michigan Blood Cord Blood Bank is a major resource to help meet this need. Cord blood units in the Michigan Blood Cord Blood Bank’s inventory are listed in several international databases.