Cord Blood Donation Effort Launches for First Time in Philadelphia Area Expectant mothers can donate babies’ cord blood to save lives
Two-year-old Mason Shaffer acts and plays just like any other happy little boy. But a little over a year ago, Mason nearly died from Malignant Infantile Osteopetrosis (MIOP). Mason’s life was saved by stem cells obtained through a publicly donated cord blood unit.
On Wednesday, May 4th, Community Blood Services partnered with Main Line Health and The Mason Shaffer Foundation of Pennsylvania to proudly announce its new cooperative effort designed to offer families the opportunity to publicly bank their babies’ cord blood. It is the first organized effort of its kind in Pennsylvania east of Pittsburgh.
The program, named the Mason Shaffer Public Cord Blood Program at Main Line Health, is being offered to all expectant mothers delivering at Lankenau Medical Center and Bryn Mawr Hospital. The Mason Shaffer Foundation was established after Mason’s successful stem cell transplant to expand the network of hospitals that participate in cord blood donation programs. Plans are underway to expand the program to expectant mothers delivering at Paoli and Riddle hospitals.
The announcement was made at a press conference at the Annenberg Center for Medical Education at Lankenau Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pa. Speaking at the event were Community Blood Services’ president and CEO, Dr. Dennis Todd; Mason Shaffer’s parents, Sarah and Marc Shaffer; Dr. E. Anders Kolb, director, Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant, A.I. duPont Hospital for Children; Dr. Nancy Roberts, Main Line Health Chair of ObGyn; and Dr. Louis Giangiulio, attending pediatric physician, Main Line Health.
Starting May 4th, all women giving birth at Lankenau Medical Center and Bryn Mawr Hospital were given the opportunity to donate their babies’ lifesaving umbilical cord blood at no cost. Donations are listed on the National Marrow Donor Program’s (NMDP) Be The Match Registry for possible use by patients in need of stem cell transplants in Pennsylvania and worldwide. Twelve lifesaving cord blood units already had been collected at the participating hospitals by the time of the press conference.
Sarah and Marc Shaffer spoke poignantly about how Mason’s only chance for survival was an unrelated donor when he needed a lifesaving transplant and no one in his family was a match. Mason was saved because someone had “stepped up to the plate” and donated their baby’s lifesaving umbilical cord blood, Sarah said.
Dr. Todd noted that Community Blood Services’ cord blood program has shipped over 250 transplants worldwide, the most recent to treat a sickle cell patient. He said there is a great need for more ethnically and racially diverse donors. By partnering with the Mason Shaffer Public Cord Blood Program to collect cord blood at Main Line Health, he said he hopes the number of diverse donors on the registry will increase, offering more hope for lifesaving matches.
"There are thousands of patients like Mason waiting for matching donors to give them a chance at life,” Dr. Todd said. “The women donating through this program are not only giving life to their newborn but also have the potential to save somebody else’s baby or child."
Umbilical cord blood is rich in non-controversial stem cells which can be used to successfully treat more than 70 life-threatening diseases, including many types of cancers and blood disorders. Umbilical cord blood is a byproduct of birth that is usually discarded. Donation poses no physical risk to the mother and baby and is completely painless.
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 New Jersey’s only not-for-profit public cord blood bank. Today, the NJCBB is a member of the NMDP and National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI) and collects umbilical cord blood from mothers delivering at designated hospitals in New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The umbilical cord blood units are then listed on the NMDP Registry, which is searched for lifesaving stem cell matches.
About the Mason Shaffer Foundation
The Mason Shaffer Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2010 by Sarah and Marc Shaffer. Their son Mason received a successful stem cell transplant in 2009 from donated cord blood. The Mason Shaffer Foundation was established to expand the network of hospitals that participate in cord blood donation programs and promote education on the cord blood donation process. Other goals of the foundation include funding umbilical cord blood stem cell research, establishing a support network for families of children with Osteopetrosis, and providing support for transplant families at Nemours, Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children. The foundation’s board also includes Mason’s transplant physician, pediatrician, and close family and friends. Additional information about the foundation is available at www.MasonShafferFoundation.org
About Main Line Health
Founded in 1985, Main Line Health (MLH) is a non-profit health system serving portions of Philadelphia and its western suburbs. At its core are four of the region’s most respected acute care hospitals — Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital — as well as one of the nation’s premier facilities for rehabilitative medicine, Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, and Mirmont Treatment Center for drug and alcohol recovery. Main Line Health, with over 10,000 employees and 2,000 physicians, provides the area’s most advanced medicine, as well as health-centered care, education and research to help our community stay well ahead on the path to life-long health. MLH has over 80