PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A unique program, announced today, gives new parents the ability to save lives. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl explains.
One of the best ways to get life saving stem cells happens after a baby is born, with blood from the umbilical cord. Now new parents can donate for free. It’s a first in southeastern Pennsylvania.
2-year-old Mason Shaffer is a playful energetic toddler now. But he was born with a deadly disorder.
“Without any treatment he would not survive, and the only treatment was a bone marrow or stem cell transplant,” said Sarah Shaffer, Mason’s mother.
While his brother wasn’t a match, the Shaffer family got lucky. The stem cells that saved Mason’s life came from a strangers donated cord blood. That’s blood taken from the umbilical cord after a baby is born. It’s a rich source stem cells.
“They’re kind of like liquid gold. They can save lives. They can change lives,” said Marc Shaffer.
But in southeastern Pennsylvania that liquid gold, cord blood, is usually discarded unless parents pay to have it saved. Until now, there was no way to donate cord blood.
“We had to do something about it, to allow other families to have the option to donate this life saving blood and hopefully save some other peoples lives,” said Sarah.
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The Mason Shaffer Foundation and Main Line Health have joined forces to create a public cord blood bank. New parents in Main Line hospitals can now donate for free.
“I think this is the most significant thing that’s happened in my 30 years of being an obstetrician,” said Dr. Nancy Roberts, Main Line Health Chair of ObGyn. She says being able to donate cord blood to the National Bone Marrow Registry is long overdue.
“We have the potential for saving a lot of lives and curing diseases for a lot of people, and what greater gift could we give to our patients and our community,” said Dr. Roberts.
Cord blood can treat more than 70 life threatening disease.
The free donations are also available at hospitals in Wilmington and Camden.
Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3