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Temple University Hospital Establishes Public Cord Blood Donation Program

Temple University Hospital (TUH) is the first hospital in the city of Philadelphia to establish a public cord blood donation program, giving new parents the ability to give one life and save another: by bringing their baby into the world, and by donating stem cells from the otherwise-discarded umbilical cord blood. These stem cells can be made widely available to patients in need of life-saving transplants.
TUH's Women and Infant's Division is partnering with The Mason Shaffer Foundation and Community Blood Services – a non-profit organization that operates a public-cord bank in New Jersey – to establish The Mason Shaffer Public Cord Blood Program at Temple, at no charge to donors or to TUH.

Expectant moms and families receive educational guidance about the opportunity to donate their baby's umbilical cord blood for free. This donation is then listed on the National Marrow Donor Program's "Be the Match" Registry for use by patients in need of a stem cell transplant, and by researchers to advance the development of new treatments.

"After a baby's birth, and after the cord is clamped and cut, the blood remaining in a portion of the umbilical cord and the placenta is collected with no risk to baby or mother. This cord blood is a rich source of stem cells which can be used to treat leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia, and about 70 other cancers and diseases," says Dimitrios Mastrogiannis, MD, Temple's Director of Obstetrics and Maternal Fetal Medicine and Director of Labor and Delivery.

"Ethnically-diverse groups are underrepresented as cord-blood donors, and have a lower chance of finding a matching donor. Having a more diverse registry helps to increase the likelihood that all patients will find a match – giving more minority patients the same chance at life as Caucasians, while also facilitating research of diseases prevalent in minority populations. Furthermore, cord blood donation could also enhance our basic research programs on fetal and neonatal immunity" he adds.

The new program at Temple is one of only a dozen statewide and the only one in Philadelphia County. It is named in honor of 5-year-old Pennsylvania resident Mason Shaffer, whose life was saved by a public cord blood donation after being diagnosed with Malignant Infantile Osteopetrosis, a life-threatening blood disorder, when he was just seven months old.

"Thanks to publicly-donated cord blood, our son was cured, which changed our family's lives forever," says Sarah Shaffer, Mason's mother, and founder of the Mason Shaffer Foundation. "Expectant parents who choose to donate their newborns' umbilical cord blood can save the lives of more patients, like Mason, who need life-saving stem cell transplants," she notes.

Date Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014

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