Piedmont Atlanta Hospital received its first umbilical cord blood donation from an infant born just before 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
The baby, not yet named, is the son of Emily and J.C. Velez, who decided to donate their child's cord blood to the Cleveland Cord Blood Center.
The hospital expects that 65 to 70 percent of families will also donate their baby's cord blood, stated Piedmont Hospital spokeswoman Amanda Bartlett.
Cord blood is rich in blood-forming cells that can be used in transplants for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and other life-threatening blood diseases.
Once a family donates a child's cord blood, it's then placed into a public cord blood bank for use by anyone who is in need and a match.
Because of a recent grant from the Abraham J. & Phyllis Katz Foundation, Piedmont has become a public cord blood donation center.
“Each year, approximately 3,500 babies are delivered at the hospital. If even a fraction of those babies’ cord blood is donated, think how many lives would be saved,” said Les Donahue, president and CEO of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.
Right now, approximately 170 people in Georgia are searching for an unrelated donor match to save their lives, according to BeTheMatchFoundation.org. An unrelated donor match may come from donors providing bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood stem cells, Bartlett stated.
“Currently, umbilical cords containing cells with life-saving capacity are normally thrown away as medical waste,” said Nancy Cook,M.D., an OBGYN at Piedmont Hospital. “With the help of this grant, Piedmont Atlanta will be able to offer a way for a delivering mom to donate her baby’s cord blood to a public bank-- essentially giving life twice—first to her own child, and next to potentially save the life of a patient with a blood disease.”
Parents interested in donating their baby’s umbilical cord after their birth should discuss with their obstetrician or contact Piedmont Atlanta during their pregnancy. There is no cost to the family when donating a baby’s umbilical cord to the Cleveland Cord Blood Center.