Community Blood Services & Mercy Medical Center Launch First Public Cord Blood Program in Maryland
October 11, 2010
(Left to right) Thomas Mullen, president and CEO of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore; Dr. Nancy Paltell of the Maryland Catholic Conference; and Dr. Dennis Todd, president & CEO of Community Blood Services.
Community Blood Services and Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore have partnered together to launch the first public umbilical cord blood program in Maryland.
On October 11, Mercy Medical Center began giving all women the opportunity to donate their babies’ lifesaving umbilical cord blood for free through the not-for-profit public cord blood program at Community Blood Services, which has laboratories in Allendale and Camden, NJ. All units collected through the program will be listed on the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) registry for use by patients in need of transplants in Maryland or worldwide.
During Monday’s announcement, Sarah Shaffer of Philadelphia, founder of the Mason Shaffer Foundation, shared the story of how her 20-month old son, Mason, was saved by a public cord blood donation after being diagnosed with malignant infantile osteopetrosis, a bone disease, when he was just five months old.
“Thanks to a publicly donated cord blood, our son was cured, which changed our family’s lives forever,” said Sarah as Mason chattered in her arms. Sarah stressed how expectant parents who choose to donate their newborns’ umbilical cord blood can save the lives of more patients, like Mason, who need lifesaving stem cell transplants.
This cord blood program is the culmination of a year’s research and planning by the Maryland Catholic Conference to identify partnerships between Maryland hospitals and blood banks throughout the Mid-Atlantic region that would enable hospitals in Maryland to accept donations of umbilical cord blood to a public cord blood bank. A crucial goal of the new partnership is to increase the number of cord blood donors who are African-American, a population that is underrepresented in the donor population.
“We are very excited to work with Mercy and bring our lifesaving work to Maryland,” said Dr. Dennis Todd, president and chief executive officer at Community Blood Services. “Donations from Mercy’s African American moms will give more minority patients the same chance at life as Caucasians.”
Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien agreed that the African American community currently underrepresented on the national registry will benefit from the new partnership. Noting that the new cord blood program fits in well with the Catholic hospitals’ mission, he said, “There’s a common misconception that the Catholic Church is opposed to stem cell research but that’s wrong. The church has long supported adult stem cell research, which does not destroy human embryos.”
Maryland joins the states of Delaware and New Jersey in storing lifesaving cord bloods with Community Blood Services. St. Agnes Hospital, also in Baltimore, is the next Maryland hospital planning to partner with Community Blood Services to offer the option to mothers to publicly donate their babies’ cord blood.
Umbilical cord blood, which is a byproduct of birth that is usually discarded, is rich in non-controversial stem cells which can be used to successfully treat more than 90 life-threatening diseases, including many types of cancers and blood disorders. Donation is harmless to the mother and baby and completely painless.
Also attending Monday’s event from Mercy Medical Center were (Thomas R. Mullen, president and CEO; Sr. Helen Amos, RSM, executive chair, Board of Trustees; and Dr. Robert Atlas, OB/GYN, chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
In addition, Maryland State Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R-District 34); Dr. Karen Proudford, president of the board of the William E. Proudford Sickle Cell Fund Program; and Dr. Roger Mrowiec, scientific director of the Stem Cell Division at Community Blood Services were on hand for Monday’s announcement.
About the New Jersey Cord Blood Bank (NJCBB) at Community Blood Services
In 2005, New Jersey became the first state in the U.S. to create a publicly funded umbilical cord blood and placental stem cell bank and education program. Community Blood Services took over all operations of the New Jersey Cord Blood Bank (NJCBB) in 2007, becoming the state’s only public cord blood bank for the State of New Jersey. Today, Community Blood Services’ public bank is a member of the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and collects umbilical cords from mothers delivering at designated hospitals in New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Maryland to list on the NMDP Registry, which is searched for lifesaving stem cell matches.
About Mercy Medical Center
Mercy Medical Center is a 136-year-old, university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the nation, among 10 best centers for women’s health and most recently, to US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT’s annual list of “Best Hospitals.” Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine and will soon open the state-of-the-art, 20-story, $400+ million Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information, visit Mercy online at www.mdmercy.com or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.