Rachel Manley Tells Us How and Why She Saved Her Child’s Cord Blood

How did we decide to save our child’s cord blood?

A testimonial from Rachel Manley, our Fine Arts Partner and artist of BIRTH

It’s all kind of a blur now because once we made the decision to do it, it just seemed like such a natural choice. We never second guessed our decision.

I remember being pregnant and researching the birth process on the Internet. Like so many soon-to-be mothers, I signed up for a variety parenting magazines and websites trying to get prepared for this life-changing moment called “birth.” The cord blood ads started to roll in through my email. Stem cell research was in the news due to the debate in the States over embryonic stem cell research. There was a lot that I didn’t understand, but the debate highlighted the need for stem cells. It was clear that stem cell research held tremendous promise even if the debate seemed misguided on many fronts. I became intrigued and ultimately started to follow some of the links sent to me via email. “Wow,” I thought. “This is the future of modern medicine!” I kept researching.

Out of the blue, I got a message from one of our long-time friends in France. We had just visited her family a few months before. During the visit, she had mentioned that her husband’s brother had recently been diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 36. Leukemia is not just a children’s disease, we were reminded. We were shocked. The prognosis did not look good. Then, there was this message. . . a miracle. Because of the gift of public cord donation, the doctors had been able to locate two cord blood matches from Italy and the US. These were used to treat the disease and her brother-in-law was now on the road to recovery. This story really hit home. Cord blood use was not just science-fiction or some blind hope for the future. It was real and being used now! I realized that it would be a true waste to throw any cord blood away. And yet. . . it was not standard practice to save cord blood at birth.

I was putting the pieces together and I wanted my husband on board with me. I remember him just looking at me with eyebrows raised as he digested all of the information that I was throwing at him. A bit of silence and then. . . yes, it makes sense. Perfect sense. We should do it! It’s like planning for college; you owe it to your child. Ultimately, we concluded in that same conversation that we should do everything possible to insure that our child’s cord blood would be preserved at birth. We felt good. We had just made one of the first major decisions that would potentially have a direct effect on our child’s life. That’s power! Parents don’t often get opportunities like that.

Over the next few days, we started to explain our decision to the soon-to-be grandparents. There were lots of questions and even more amazement. Again, everyone felt very proud because we knew as a family that we would be doing everything in our power to provide the very best for our child. Saving our baby’s cord blood would be just the beginning.

Given our situation (we lived overseas), we chose a hospital in Paris for the birth and a private cord blood bank in Europe with an established reputation. The process was surprisingly easy. We answered a few background questions and verified with the hospital that they would agree to help us collect the cord blood. They very graciously agreed and seemed eager to also be a part of this special request. They prided themselves in being a state-of-the-art facility and so I think they were happy to see young parents doing something constructive with their child’s cord blood rather than just throwing it away. We were fortunate because we could afford to preserve our child’s cord blood privately. However, if that had not been an option, we would have gladly donated our child’s cord blood to a public bank so that it could have potentially saved someone else’s life.

A few weeks before my due date, we received a box in the mail that contained instructions and everything the doctors would need to collect the cord blood. Once collected, all we needed to do was to call the special FedEX number provided specifically for medical transport (yes, FedEx). Our daughter was born near midnight and the courier from FedEX came the next day to pick up the box. Off it went! We got a confirmation about a week later informing us that the cord blood had been received, tested and stored successfully.

That was it! It was such a smooth and natural process. My husband still got to cut the umbilical cord as we had planned and we were totally focused on our new little girl. I would not have even been aware that they had actually collected the cord blood during labor except that when they wheeled me and my newborn baby to our room, there was the box at the foot of my bed. Amazing how that one moment can change everything, isn’t it?

Please, don’t waste your moment. I hope that you choose to save your child’s cord blood. In that brief moment of bringing life into this world, you have the power to save a life. . . your child’s life or even someone else’s. That’s power! Use it!


“BIRTH” the Book! Now Available!

Get your copy of “BIRTH: Images from a Sketchbook”! This is our book based on the upcoming BIRTH Art Exhibit/Campaign and was produced in partnership with Rachel Manley. All proceeds from the sale of this book will go directly to Save the Cord Foundation!

This is the perfect gift for baby showers, doctors offices, mid-wives, etc.

Follow the link below:


B I R T H: Images from a Sketchbook

BIRTH: Images from a Sketchbook

Upcoming BIRTH Exhibit Locations

Upcoming Exhibit Locations
for the BIRTH Campaign in partnership with the Save the Cord Foundation:
International Umbilical Cord Blood Transplantation Symposium
Hyatt Regency, San Francisco
June 22-25, 2011 (Registration Required)

Ventana Medical Systems Inc. Gallery
Presented by the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance
Tuscon, Arizona
July 1st – September 30th, 2011  (Open to the public on Saturdays or by appointment)  http://www.saaca.org/ventanamedicalsytems.html

Meet the artist, Rachel Manley

Rachel Manley is our Fine Arts Partner at Save the Cord Foundation.  Her art will be featured on our new poster for the BIRTH Campaign and in a commemorative book which we are publishing. We sat down with Rachel to learn more about her unusual life as an artist and expat living in Northern Africa.  Here is what we learned . . .

Rachel Manley, Artist (photo courtesy of 5Fifteen Photography)


April 2011

  1. How would you describe your artwork?

    Movement, symbolism, color, intense subject matter. . . I routinely experiment with media and new processes. This leads to a lot of diversity in my work.

  2. Where did you grow up and how has that influenced your art?

    Currently, I live in North Africa but I grew up in a very small southern US town. I was fortunate because my parents exposed both me and my brother to all of the arts. . . dance, theater, visual art, music, etc. This was in large part thanks to my mother’s job as the arts supervisor for the public schools in our county. My father too has a very creative side and more importantly a big can-do attitude which forcibly makes him a curious person. They both love to travel and so we were often exploring new places. You can see all of these things reflected in my work today.

  3. Describe your process.

    I do what I call parallel production which simply means that I have more than one piece in the works at all times. I am typically focused on a particular theme and often find that I develop tangents to that theme as I go along. These tangents may develop into larger themes and series later. So, in general, nothing is wasted in my studio whether it’s an idea or materials. I try to put everything to work.

  4. What artists have influenced you and how?

    If anyone, I think that I would have to give credit to an art teacher I had at UNC Chapel Hill. She told us a story one day about Patrick Dougherty, the contemporary artist who does fantastic and huge installations using sticks and vines. As the story goes, Mr. Dougherty had been commissioned to do a piece inside the World Trade Center in New York. He was given free reign on the project except that the Port Authority insisted that his “sticks and vines” could not touch the floor or the walls! Rather than thinking of this rule as a problem, he saw it as an opportunity to be more creative. His solution was to put everything up on ladders. I later learned, from the artist himself, that he actually got the ladders on loan from the Putnam Rolling Ladder Company down the street. With these new parameters to his project, he then conceived the piece Highfalutin, “as big city calligraphy.” It was a big hit and the story is now legendary. I’ve found that life often throws you “rules” or some sort of constraint and these constraints often have a direct effect on your art. So, I actually welcome a few constraints on all of my projects.

  5. What’s your favorite part of being an artist?

    I love the freedom of deciding what projects I am going to do and then developing those ideas into something tangible and meaningful.

  6. Your latest series. . . What are you trying to achieve with it?

    SKETCHBOOK 2010, “Guide to Being an Expat: It will be fun, I swear.”: This project was a retrospective over the previous 2 years of my life. It was a project just for me. . . a bit cathartic, putting things in perspective (birth, moving, art, love, etc.). Now, the sketchbook series has blossomed into something greater. In particular, the Birth painting has come to the forefront because of its emotional significance and universal message of joy. That image was an obvious choice to represent the Save the Cord Foundation and their mission.

    FALSE IMPRESSIONS: The concept for this series began shortly before the Jasmin Revolution started in Tunisia. As a foreigner living in Tunisia, I would often find irony in my surroundings. It started with the church down the street that was actually a police station. Then, the revolution hit and suddenly the truth came out on so many things. False Impressions documents some of the things I have observed which make Tunisia unique and often misunderstood. It also documents “false impressions” brought about by the revolution itself.

  7. What inspires you to paint and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?

    My inspiration comes from stories I feel I must tell. Sometimes they are not narratives in the classical sense but more of a concept or an observation. When things get tough in the studio, I tend to do something else for a while or even better I force myself to play in the studio.

  8. Where have you lived/traveled and how has this influenced your art?

    I have lived in the US, Europe and Africa. The most obvious influence that this has had on my art is in the choice of subject matter. But, it can also have a direct impact on the materials I use and where my art is shown. So, I would say that the places where I have lived or visited have had a huge impact on me and my art and continue to do so.

  9. Has living overseas helped or hindered your career as an artist?

    I think that it has definitely helped. My overseas experience has not only provided me with rich subject matter but has also “allowed” me to dedicate time to making art. I have been able to reassess what I really want to do. From the beginning, my husband has been very supportive of my career in the arts. He has a lot of faith in what I am doing and continues to be my best and favorite cheerleader.

  10. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

    In 10 years, I want to be considered as an artist whose work is of long-lasting cultural significance. . . and enjoy making that art!

BIRTH by Rachel Manley

Launch of BIRTH ART EXHIBIT in San Francisco

Save the Cord Foundation Brings Art to the World of Umbilical Cord Blood Through the Work of Artist Rachel Manley

TUCSON, Arizona. (May 12th, 2011) – The Arts and Sciences come together in a common goal to educate expecting parents about the life-saving benefits of saving their child’s cord blood at the BIRTH Art Exhibit! Save the Cord Foundation has partnered with artist Rachel Manley to advance cord blood awareness and education through the Save the Cord Foundation / BIRTH Art Exhibit. The exhibit features Rachel’s work Birth, her recent Sketchbook series, several of her original pieces and a commemorative book.

The BIRTH Art Exhibit will premier June 22nd at the 9th Annual Cord Blood Symposium Reception (registration required) hosted by the Cord Blood Forum at the Hyatt Embarcadero Hotel, San Francisco, California. Following the Symposium, the entire exhibit will be featured for three months starting July 1st at the Ventana Medical Art Galleries in Tucson, Arizona (open to the public on Saturdays from 10am-2pm, no entry fee). Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) and Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. will hold a gala reception, open to the public, on July 7th at the gallery to officially launch this event. It will then be made available for exhibit throughout the country at various locations and incorporated into the ongoing national educational program led by Save the Cord Foundation and directed at expectant parents and the public.

Charis Ober and Anne Sarabia, founders of Save the Cord Foundation want to take cord blood awareness and education to a new level with Rachel Manley’s art, educating expectant parents and the public about the medical value of umbilical cord blood and their options for saving it. “Birth speaks to everyone who sees it, grabbing hold of their imagination with bright colors and bold images! We want to reach out to expectant parents and the public through this powerful work of art in poster form, to inform expectant parents and the public about the medical, life-saving value of their newborn’s cord blood.,” said Charis Ober. Likewise, the artist has said that she feels honored to have her work used in such a meaningful way. “I feel that they [Save the Cord Foundation] are really doing a public service. . . . I want to be a part of that, “ said Rachel Manley.

In addition to the traveling exhibit, the image Birth will be available for free in poster form for physician’s waiting rooms, medical clinics and Hospitals with non-commercial information surrounding cord blood and the options for saving it. Also, a commemorative book featuring Birth and other paintings from Rachel’s Sketchbook series along with general information regarding cord blood will be made available for purchase (all proceeds benefit Save the Cord Foundation).

To learn more about the BIRTH Art Exhibit and the benefits of saving cord blood, please visit www.SaveTheCordFoundation.org . If you are interested in having the BIRTH Art Exhibit visit your community, please contact Charis Ober at Save the Cord Foundation or Rachel Manley at www.RManley.com.

Save the Cord Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit, whose mission is to bring factual, noncommercial information to expectant parents and the public about the life-saving medical value of umbilical cord blood and the options for preserving it. Save the Cord Foundation’s vision is to advance cord blood awareness and make saving cord blood the standard of care for all newborns.

Website: www.SaveTheCordFoundation.org

Rachel Manley is an artist and the Fine Arts Partner of the Save the Cord Foundation. Her Sketchbook 2010 series (Guide to Being an Expat: It will be fun, I swear.) has been featured in a national tour and is part of the Brooklyn Art Library permanent collection. Her painting, Birth, is the flagship image for educational campaigns conducted by the Save the Cord Foundation. It is also featured in public and private exhibits nationwide on the Foundation’s behalf. She currently lives in Northern Africa with her husband and daughter. Website: www.RManley.com

The Cord Blood Forum (cordbloodforum.org) is a non-commercial, non-political source of information and an opportunity for communication among transplant physicians, transplant coordinators, cord blood bankers, and patients. The primary mission of cordbloodforum.org is to serve patients for whom a hematopoietic cell transplant is indicated by disseminating information about the availability and effectiveness of cord blood transplants for children and adults. Website: www.cordbloodforum.org

Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) and Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. created the gallery exhibition series so the many nationally honored artists could present their pieces of art, while receiving much deserved local recognition and promoting the creation and enjoyment of community art. The series also gives amateur artists the opportunity to showcase their work among established artists. More than 35 accomplished to novice artists of all ages have featured works in the show. The public may view or purchase artworks from the exhibit during the three month show. Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., a member of the Roche Group, is the world’s leading tissue-based cancer diagnostics company. The organization recently expanded the Ventana Gallery, by creating more exhibition halls, and partnered with SAACA in an effort to further its commitment to support the arts. This joint dedication to local community has created the largest, free of charge, gallery in Southern Arizona which now provides a space for local artists to showcase their work. The Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. Gallery is open to the public on Saturdays from 10am-2pm. It is located at 1910 E. Innovation Park Drive in Tucson, Arizona. Entry is free of charge. Please contact Chelsey Killebrew at (520) 797-3959, if you require assistance. Website:www.saaca.org


About Save the Cord Foundation

Save the Cord Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization, was established to promote awareness of the life-saving benefits of cord blood based on unbiased and factual information. The Foundation educates parents, health professionals and the general public about the need to preserve this valuable medical resource while providing information on both public cord blood donation programs and family cord blood banks worldwide.

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