Michigan's First Public Cord Blood Bank Ships 25,000th Collection Kit
Friday, December 21, 2012 at 4:34PM
Laurie Brady - Webmaster

Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells Offer Life Saving Treatment for Patients
throughout the World Suffering from Certain Cancers and Blood-related Diseases

Grand Rapids, Mich. – In 1999, Michigan Blood, formerly known as Michigan Community Blood Centers, became the state’s first public cord blood bank and one of only 20 such public banks in the country.  Public cord blood banks collect, test, and store the blood stem cell from a newborn’s umbilical cord (not to be confused with embryonic stem cells).  For people with certain life-threatening diseases like leukemia and lymphoma, a transplant of stem cells from cord blood or marrow may represent the best hope for survival.  Cord blood stored at Michigan Blood is listed on the Be the Match® international registry, a global resource for matching cord blood with unrelated patients who need stem cell transplants. 

Donating umbilical cord blood does not interfere with birthing. Collection is quick, simple, anonymous, and free of charge to the patient.  There is no risk or pain for either the mother or baby.  Expectant mothers interested in donating their newborns umbilical cord blood stem cells contact Michigan Blood (1-866-MIBLOOD or 616.233.8604) and request a collection kit be sent to them.  On November 30, 2012, Michigan Blood will ship its 25,000th collection kit to a mother living in Saginaw County.  Michigan Blood confirms each expectant mother’s donation intentions with her physician or midwife, and sends a courier to the hospital after delivery.  The rich blood stem cells are tested, frozen and stored at Michigan Blood until a match is found and they can be used to save a life.

Dionne Wetzel was one of Michigan Blood’s very first cord blood stem cell donors when she delivered her daughter in 1999.  “There is nothing that compares to the birth of your healthy baby, and knowing that my child when just minutes old already had the opportunity to save a life – it leaves me speechless.  We are so blessed to have healthy children, and donating my daughter’s umbilical cord cells so that another family has hope is amazing.  Our daughter’s stem cells were transplanted in February of 2011 to an 11 year old girl fighting leukemia.  I am so grateful 25,000 kits have been shipped from Michigan Blood alone.  The more cord blood that is donated, the more lives saved.”

To date, Michigan Blood has provided 125 cord blood stem cell transplants to patients throughout the world -- as close as Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and as far as New Zeeland, covering five of the world’s 7 continents.    Michigan Blood’s local registry has provided over 600 blood stem cell (marrow) transplants from adults.

Each year, thousands of patients with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, sickle cell and other life-threatening diseases depend on the Be The Match Registry® to find a match to save their life.  Patients needing blood stem cell transplants can only find a suitable match within their family about 30% of the time. The remaining 70% of matches are made between complete strangers via the Be the Match Registry.  Yet, even with more than 10 million potential donors on the Registry, only 4 out of 10 find a match.  Donors with diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds are especially needed.

According to Dr. Lee Ann Weitekamp, Michigan Blood’s Vice President of Quality and Medical Services, “there are three main sources of blood cells for transplant.  Two are from adults, the bone marrow and peripheral blood. The third is from cord blood obtained from the umbilical cord after the birth of a child. Cord blood contains fewer blood stem cells than the adult sources, but the cells present are able to reproduce more efficiently.  The cord cells also are less fussy in terms of tissue type matching, which helps reduce a common problem in transplantation called graft vs. host disease.  It allows more patients to use cord cells because the match doesn't need to be as close.”

WZZM coverage: http://www.wzzm13.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=233480

Michigan Blood works with the following Michigan hospitals for donations:


About Michigan Blood

Founded in 1955, Michigan Blood is an independent, nonprofit blood bank that provides blood for more than 40 hospitals across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Serving Michigan hospitals is the top priority for Michigan Blood, which collects more than 115,000 blood donations each year at nine permanent donation sites and more than 3,700 mobile blood drives statewide. Related services available from Michigan Blood include a nationally recognized marrow program, therapeutic apheresis, DNA tissue-typing, transfusion medicine consultations, and Michigan’s first public cord blood bank. Michigan Blood is a member of America’s Blood Centers, a network of community blood banks spanning North America that together provide half the US blood supply.

For more information about the Be the Match® national stem cell registry, check out:


Article originally appeared on Michigan Blood (http://www.miblood.org/).
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