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San Diego Blood Bank's Cell Therapy Program serves as a public cord blood bank in California and has cord blood collection agreements in place with Scripps Health, Navy Balboa, UC Davis and Sutter Memorial Hospitals for cord blood collections in the greater San Diego and Sacramento regions.
In the past, when a baby was born the umbilical cord was discarded as medical waste. Medical research has since shown that cord blood is a rich source of life-saving stem cells that can be used to treat serious health problems in patients. Now blood from the umbilical cord is collected after a baby's birth and donated to a public cord blood bank like the one at the San Diego Blood Bank. That cord blood can help someone with a life-threatening disease.
Cord blood collection is a safe and non-invasive process. If a woman chooses to donate umbilical cord blood, labor and delivery is not affected. No blood is taken from the baby or the mother, only from the umbilical cord after the baby is born. After the cord blood is collected, it is stored in the Cell Therapy Center at San Diego Blood Bank's headquarters and made available through the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) cord blood registry for life-saving transplantation in patients.
When a patient needs a transplant, his or her doctor will search the NMDP registry for a matching cord blood unit or adult marrow donor. If a cord blood unit is found to be the best choice, the cord blood is infused into the patient’s blood where the healthy cord blood stem cells replace the patient's damaged bone marrow stem cells, restoring the patient's immune system to protect them from life threatening infections.
Cord blood has several advantages for life saving transplantation procedures. Cord blood doesn't have to match a patient's tissue type as closely as donated bone marrow stem cells from adults and therefore more patients are able to receive transplants. Also, cord blood is safer because there is less risk of graft versus host disease, a condition where the stem cells that are infused can attack the patient that receives them.
More than 40 percent of cord blood units used in NMDP transplants go to ethnically or racially diverse patients. A key problem for transplantation is that minorities are an underserved group due to the lack of acceptable bone marrow matches available to them. The San Diego Cord Blood Bank has the unique advantage of having access to a large population of racially and ethnically diverse people, so cord blood collection in our community makes good sense. Donating to a public cord blood bank is free. Donating to this bank, just like the blood bank, means the cord blood is available to any patient who needs a transplant.
We are moving into a new era of cell-based therapies worldwide, and the Cell Therapy department is deeply involved in carrying out research to supply stem cell products and services to academic and biopharmaceutical researchers for the development of new cell-based therapies for the treatment of a broad range of diseases, including cancer, immune and genetic disorders. We are also carrying out our own internal research programs with cord blood stem cells to develop therapies targeting cancer and immune disorders and exploring opportunities in the new field of regenerative medicine, using cell therapy for the treatment of age-related disorders such as cardiovascular, neurological and autoimmune problems.
For more information on our Cell Therapy Program, please call us at 619-400-8304. Financial donations are vital in keeping San Diego Blood Bank’s Cell Therapy Program on the cutting edge of cell therapy and research. Please donate today!