By Mike Dougherty

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Temple University Hospital has started Philadelphia’s first ever free umbilical cord donation program. The goal is to build a supply to serve the city’s diverse population.

Umbilical cords are typically thrown away, unless the parents pay to store them privately. Doctors say cord blood can save the lives of people suffering from more than 70 forms of cancer and other diseases, including leukemia and sickle cell anemia.

Although it’s plentiful and easy to acquire, there’s still a shortage.

“One person donated one umbilical cord, and that is the only thing that saved his life,” says Sara, the mother of a boy whose life was saved by a donation.

The Mason Shaffer Public Cord Blood Program at Temple is named after the boy. Sara says every sick baby should have the same second chance her son did.

“We really wanted to make sure that was afforded to as many people as possible.”

Dr. Dimitrios Mastrogianis says the procedure is noninvasive:

“There’s no risk for mother or baby. The baby is delivered and then we take the blood from the cord.”

He says so far, they have stored more than 10,000 samples.

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Mike Dougherty