Friday, November 19, 2010

Your baby can save a life -

Your baby can save a life -

When Leidy Sanchez and her husband, Carlos Reyes, went to the hospital last week to deliver their baby, a nurse got her a gown, hooked her up to a fetal monitor and asked an unexpected question: Would they like to donate cells from their baby's umbilical cord blood to a public bank?

"We said, 'For real, people are doing this?' " says Sanchez. "We'd never heard of it."

The couple had heard of private banking, where you pay thousands of dollars to store your baby's cord blood cells, but this was different. The stem cells from Christopher's umbilical cord would be stored, free of charge, at a public bank for potentially anyone in need of a stem cell transplant for leukemia, sickle cell anemia or dozens of other diseases.

It didn't take Sanchez and Reyes long to say yes.

"We felt good that we could save a life," Sanchez says.

But what about if, heaven forbid, their baby Christopher were to need those cells later in life? They might still be there for him, but then again they might have been given away to someone else.

"I don't think he'll need them. Hopefully, he'll be healthy," Sanchez says. "But we know there could be someone out there who needs these cells right now."

"If people donated to public banks instead of private ones, many, many lives could be saved," says Dr. Andromachi Scaradavou, medical director of the National Cord Blood Program.

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