A Father’s Story: Cord Blood Saved His Son’s Life

A Father’s Story: Cord Blood Saved His Son’s Life

Erik Praskins spoke about his son’s battle with leukemia at the Arizona Cord Blood Conference 2017 held in Phoenix, Arizona. His story is not unique yet, it is hard for many of us to imagine. Watch Erik tell his story below. . .

Children are sometimes described as “angels among us.” Indeed, every parent has felt that emotional moment of amazement looking into their child’s eyes or watching them discover something new in the world. Everytime they walk in the room, our perspective on the world changes. In their innocence, we are reminded of all that is good in the world. Perhaps, this is why we are always so shocked and saddened to hear about children fighting cancer? It seems so unjust (and it is).

According to the American Cancer Society (source: www.cancer.org), leukemia is the most common cancer in children and teens. Within the leukemia category, the most common are acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Although 5-year survival rates have increased, each year more than 2,000 children under age 19 die from cancer in the United States alone (source: www.childrenscancer.org).

In a recent talk at the Arizona Cord Blood Conference, Erik Praskins spoke openly about how his son’s life was saved thanks to a generous cord blood donation from a family he will probably never meet. His son, Dylan, was only 2 months old when he was diagnosed with leukemia, specifically ALL. His case was very serious. He was considered high-risk and required a stem cell transplant immediately. When a bone marrow donor could not be found, doctors turned to cord blood. Cord blood is more easily matched than bone marrow. It is also readily available if stored at birth. Recent studies have also suggested that a cord blood transplant for high-risk patients results in fewer cases of relapse (source: www.fredhutch.org).

Dylan was lucky in so many ways. His parents and doctors were quick to identify the cancer. They worked tirelessly to find an appropriate treatment for him. Little did they know on day one of this battle, that it would be the birth of another child somewhere in the world who would give Dylan a second chance. That child’s family literally gave life twice by donating their child’s cord blood instead of simply throwing it away. For this, Dylan’s family is eternally grateful. Just watch Erik’s face at the end of this video and you will see the gratitude spill over.

Perhaps their are angels among us?

Learn more about Dylan’s story here.

 

Save the Cord Foundation is proud to work with and support public cord blood donation programs around the world. We are especially proud of our work with the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program in our home state.
Find out how you can donate to this amazing public program
that helps patients, like Dylan, in Arizona and across the globe.

 

Cord Blood Experts Discuss Educational Approaches for Parents, Health Professionals & Students

Cord Blood Experts Discuss Educational Approaches for Parents, Health Professionals & Students

cord blood world europe 2017 educational approaches roundtableSave the Cord Foundation recently had the honor of attending Cord Blood World Europe 2017, part of the World Advanced Therapies & Regenerative Medicine Congress and World Precision Medicine Congress, held in London. This was a fantastic opportunity to hear excellent speakers such as Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, Dr. Colleen Delaney, Dr. Paul Veys, Dr. Guy Sauvageau and many others speak about cord blood research and current uses for cord blood in the medical world. In addition, topics went beyond cord blood at times as experts discussed processing and uses for cord tissue as well as other perinatal stem cells. Regenerative medicine was a recurring theme throughout.

A great emphasis was placed on interacting with the expert presenters via lively roundtables and open panel discussions. Save the Cord Foundation was invited to host a roundtable discussion called “Educational Approaches.” We worked with attendees on new educational approaches addressing a variety of audiences, namely health professionals, expectant parents and our next generation of STEM professionals. Several of the participants in this roundtable discussion agreed to share their thoughts with the Save the Cord Foundation community. Below is a quick summary based on some of the most talked about presentations:

One of the most exciting presentations was made by Dr. Colleen Delaney of Nohla Therapeutics and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Delaney presented “Ex-vivo Expanded Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cell Therapies: The Road from a Patient Specific to Universal Donor Approach.” Participants in our roundtable commented that there were several key points made in this presentation that health professionals and parents needed to know about, for example:

After hearing Dr. Delaney’s presentation, I feel parents and health professionals need to realize why cord blood expansion techniques and the concept of the ‘universal donor’ which Dr. Delaney is exploring are so necessary. In particular, compared to patients of Caucasian descent, if a patient of mixed ethnicity is trying to find a match today the odds go down drastically. It is important for parents to know why this cord blood expansion technology led by Dr. Delaney is important and that happily it is perhaps just a few years away from being market ready. That potential is very encouraging.Mara Lucato (Create Cord Blood Bank Canada - www.createcordbank.com)

Another interesting presentation was made by Chiranya (Anjie) Prachaseri of Cryoviva in South East Asia, called “Perinatal Stem Cell Banking- Uses and Future Opportunities – A South East Asian Perspective.” This presentation emphasized the on-going problem with press and media coverage of cord blood which can often mislead parents and doctors. Prachaseri also discussed the fact that many parents do not know about the various accreditation groups who play a very important role in the industry.

Although the presentation focused mainly on South East Asia, Dr. Mareike Uhlmann from Stemlab, who participated in our roundtable, agreed it is crucial. . .

to ensure that the bank you want to use for storage is properly accredited and certified to guarantee that the parent’s hopes won’t be shattered in case a treatment is needed.Dr. Mareike Uhlmann (Stemlab - www.stemlab.ch)

Andre Gomes, also from Stemlab, stated how important it is to address the misinformation that is being given to our youth – the next generation of scientists, doctors, policy makers, etc. He applauded Prachaseri’s efforts of speaking to university students about cord blood and stem cell applications.

This has to be explained. More information must be given to young people otherwise we will always be fighting misinformation and confusing press. We need to move from the idea that ‘stem cells are bad’ to a discussion about the good and bad reasons for stem cell storage.Andre Gomes (Stemlab - www.stemlab.ch)

Finally, another presentation that prompted interesting discussion was made by Joana Correia of Exogenus Therapeutics. Correia presented “Umbilical Cord Blood Supply for the Development of Exo-Wound, an Exosome-based Product for Chronic Wounds.” Based on this presentation, roundtable participants saw opportunity for future STEM professionals who want to explore cellular expansion, delivery mechanisms, exosome extraction or even the shifts between translational and clinical applications. While these opportunities cannot be denied, several roundtable participants expressed caution reminding the group that cord blood stem cells are truly precious and should be used wisely.

Our collective responsibility, as scientists and educators, is to ensure that parents understand the true value of their newborn’s stem cells.Dr. Ayub Lulat (Create Cord Blood Bank Canada - www.createcordbank.com )
Challenges in cord blood education

Experts discuss challenges in cord blood education

We, at Save the Cord Foundation, could not agree more. Cord blood is rich in stem cells. If collected and stored properly, these stem cells could be currently used to treat more than 80 different life-threatening diseases including many blood cancers. Compared to bone marrow, it is much easier to match and carries less risk of Graft versus Host Disease. Impressive research is also underway around the globe to test cord blood’s potential in regenerative medicine. For example, there is ground-breaking research to potentially treat spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, hearing loss and diabetes all using cord blood.

This is why we tell every parent. . . do everything you can to save your baby’s cord blood. If you can donate it, then donate it. If you prefer to privately store it (for eventual use by your child or family member), then do it. Be proactive and plan ahead. Please don’t throw this valuable medical resource away. Save the cord.

Meet another cord blood expert: Dr. Curtis Cetrulo, Sr.

Learn about the current uses of cord blood and perinatal stem cells. . . click here.

 

 

London Puts the Spotlight on Cord Blood

London Puts the Spotlight on Cord Blood

cord blood spotlight london fact cba isct meetingsLondon is buzzing with talk about cord blood these days!  The 2017 ISCT Meetings kicked off last week with a 2-day focus on cord blood featuring experts from FACT, CBA, ISCT and ASBMT.  Our team was fortunate to be in attendance for this exclusive event.

The first day of the event focused on introducing banks to the FACT Cord Blood inspection process as well as the need for international standards. A portion of the day was also dedicated to explaining the role of the inspector and the requirements for becoming an inspector.

On the second day, meetings ran in tandem featuring a variety of topics and speakers. Attendees were encouraged to float between the two rooms and attend those meeting most important to them. In one room, FACT focused on real world applications of procedures and concepts. The day was designed to strengthen attendees quality assurance knowledge through a variety of presentations and exercises.

One of our favorite presentations and exercises looked at the implications and risks of having standards that are too strict given the potential new applications for cord blood in the near future. This topic was led by Ed Brindle, MSc, MLT from Insception Lifebank cord blood bank in Canada and an active volunteer on the FACT Accreditation Standards Committee.  He challenged attendees to work together to determine the pros and cons of changing certain acceptance criteria for cord blood units and the impact that these changes would have on current and future therapies.

Another notable presentation was made by Gesine Koegler, PhD who discussed the recent evolutions in the industry, namely the NetCord and WMDA partnership. Not only did Koegler give an overview of current trends in the industry but she spoke in great detail about the benefits of bringing WMDA and NetCord together under one umbrella. Born out of common goals, the new partnership signals another milestone for the industry as a whole.

CBA Agenda ISCT 2017

CBA Agenda ISCT 2017

Just upstairs, the Cord Blood Association together with ISCT and ABSMT held a full day of presentations. They hosted a truly dynamic group of speakers including Jaap Boelens, PhD. and Juliet Barker, MBBS. Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg and Dr. Elizabeth J. Shpall presented alongside key leaders in the field to cover topics such as cord expansion, cord blood versus haplo trends and breakthroughs in regenerative medicine. Each presentation was packed with useful information and the question/answer sessions were particularly beneficial.

Without a doubt the 2-day Cord Blood Spotlight was both highly educational and practical. As attendees, we learned about the importance of international standards for both public and private cord blood banks. We also enjoyed hearing how the latest research is advancing and then going back to the workshops to explore how the standards might change in the future based on these developments.

One thing is clear. . . the best public/private cord blood banks understand these details. They are actively making sure that the cord blood units they store are accessible and usable for current applications. They are also preparing today for what the near future holds, especially with regards to regenerative medicine.

 

Habla espanol ? Discover our selection of articles in Spanish.

medicina regerativa cordon umbilical

 

 

 

“Medicina regenerativa:
Salve vidas y reduzca costos de atención médica”

 

 

Share the Science: Dr. Tim Nelson from the MAYO Clinic, Strengthening the HLHS Heart with Cord Blood

Share the Science: Dr. Tim Nelson from the MAYO Clinic, Strengthening the HLHS Heart with Cord Blood

Cutting edge research at the MAYO Clinic is leading to new hope for individuals with HLHS Heart Syndrome and cord blood is a critical part of the story. Can cord blood strengthen the heart?  Dr. Timothy Nelson recently discussed his latest clinical trial on “Share the Science.”

Update: Dr. Nelson made his presentation live on “Share the Science” on May 17th, 2017. The recording is now available for viewing. Please click below.

Free Webinar: Save the Cord Foundation and Mediware, Inc. are proud to welcome Dr. Timothy Nelson for our next edition of Share the Science on May 17th, 2017. Share the Science is a free webinar series focused on the cord blood industry and the latest research in this field.  As always, we invite both health professionals and the general public to join us for this enlightening presentation.

Imagine the news. . . you are pregnant or perhaps just gave birth and your doctor tells you that your baby’s heart has not developed correctly. It is HLHS. Treatment typically involves a series of three intense surgeries as soon as the baby is born. If left untreated, HLHS is fatal soon after birth.

What is HLHS?

HLHS or Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome is a rare and complex congenital heart defect for which there is currently no cure.  Affecting more than 2,000 newborns in the United States each year, this disease is defined by underdevelopment.  According to the Mayo Clinic, “In HLHS, the left side of a child’s heart — the left ventricle, ascending aorta and left heart valves — is severely underdeveloped. The result is a heart with only a single functional ventricular chamber — the right ventricle — and a small ascending aorta.” (Source: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER))

At the MAYO Clinic, Dr. Timothy Nelson, M.D., Ph.D. leads an innovative team of physicians and scientists with one goal in mind. . . find a cure for HLHS.  As the director of Mayo Clinic’s Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, and the the medical director of the Regenerative Medicine Consult Service, Dr. Nelson and his team are pursuing an innovative clinical trial using stem cells from cord blood to strengthen a baby’s heart following a HLHS diagnosis. The umbilical cord blood cells are processed in a specific manner in order to create highly concentrated stem cells that are injected into the heart at the time of the baby’s second open heart surgery.

The HLHS program has also recently created the HLHS consortium, a network of institutions that are participating in HLHS research. The consortium makes it easier for patients to participate in the overall research, including the umbilical cord blood collection, no matter their location.

Join us for this special presentation. . .

Dr. Timothy NELSON
from the Mayo Clinic’s
Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

“Strengthening the HLHS Heart Using Umbilical Cord Blood”

Wednesday, May 17 | 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Central Time

Free to register. Open to the public.

View the recording of SHARE THE SCIENCE with Dr. Timothy Nelson – Strengthening the HLHS Heart Using Umbilical Cord Blood

In this webinar, you will learn:

  • The importance of banking umbilical cord blood for babies with HLHS
  • What makes Mayo Clinic’s Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for HLHS unique when it comes to umbilical cord blood banking
  • Details about the clinical trial using umbilical cord blood for babies with HLHS
  • How HLHS research at Mayo Clinic’s HLHS program is changing the future for HLHS individuals

 

Want to learn more?

Share the Science continues to be a popular series within the cord blood community and beyond. We welcome your input on the series and suggestions for future speakers. Give your feedback here.

powerhouses of science - cord blood research
Previous Share the Science presentations have been archived for your reference. Discover the work of leading scientists and cord blood industry experts through this educational series. View the archive now.

Share the Science is made possible thanks to the generous support of Mediware, Inc.

 

Cord Blood Spotlight at 2017 ISCT Annual Meeting in London

Cord Blood Spotlight at 2017 ISCT Annual Meeting in London

This May, London will welcome the world’s best in the cord blood industry and cellular therapy. Just prior to the 2017 ISCT Annual Meeting, an exclusive 2-day workshop and lecture “Cord Blood Spotlight” will be hosted by FACT, CBA, ISCT, and ASBMT welcoming world-renowned cord blood scientists and transplant physicians.

In the decades since Dr. Eliane Gluckman and her team performed the world’s first cord blood transplant in France, the number of applications for this non-controversial source of stem cells have grown dramatically. Today, cord blood is being used to treat over 80 different diseases.  Since 1988, there have been over 35,000 cord blood transplants worldwide. The industry has grown globally to include a dynamic mix of public, private and hybrid cord blood banks. In particular, research using cord blood for regenerative medicine purposes has continued to evolve in amazing ways. Today, it is not unusual for us to talk about cord blood saving someone from cancer or being used to help a young child with cerebral palsy.

Globally, many of the industry’s players work together helping patients in need crossing public / private barriers as well as international borders. The cord blood industry is unique in that it is not selling a drug but rather enabling parents to help their own families or a stranger in need by storing and processing a valuable, natural medical resource — cord blood. However, while the industry is unique it is not immune to standards. In fact, these standards are even more important given the global nature of the industry and stem cells themselves. Quality assurance is compulsory. Understanding how cord blood is going to be used in the near or distant future is vitally important when considering which processes and standards to apply during the collection and storage process.

The 2-Day “Cord Blood Spotlight” has been designed with these challenges in mind.  The purpose of this meeting is to provide insight on cord blood banking standards and foster a pro-active approach to improving the quality of cord blood banking worldwide. This 2-day event will provide cord blood banks from the globe an opportunity to speak one-on-one with cord blood scientists and transplant physicians to better understand why certain processes are preferred and how banks could potentially increase the number of transplants completed by strengthening quality assurance.

Click here to REGISTER for “Cord Blood Spotlight”

Below is an overview of the 2-day program being proposed by FACT, CBA, ISCT and ASBMT:

cord blood spotlight ISCT London

2017 ISCT Annual Meetings: Cord Blood Spotlight

Click here for more info on the 2017 ISCT Annual Meetings.

Cord Blood World Europe 2017: Educational Approaches

Cord Blood World Europe 2017: Educational Approaches

The Cord Blood World Europe conference in London is just around the corner and Save the Cord Foundation is pleased to announce that we will be participating again this year. Our team will be leading a unique roundtable/workshop called “Educational Approaches” building on themes of collaboration presented by key speakers at this event.

The Cord Blood World Europe conference has evolved over the years into a dynamic platform for collaboration and discussion amongst the cord blood industry’s leading experts. Each year the event welcomes numerous researchers and visionaries from all over the world who have one thing in common. . . cord blood.  Born out of demand from feedback over the years Cord Blood World Europe aims to bring together public and private banks, clinicians, researchers, regulatory bodies and solution providers to tackle the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. The conference focuses on the continued need to increase the number of parents who privately store or donate cord blood, reduce costs, increase utilisation, advance regenerative applications and improve quality.

Cord Blood World Europe 2017
17-18 May 2017
Business Design Center, London
Register Now

In 2017, there will be a special emphasis placed on new collaborations developing in this maturing industry. The conference will serve as a springboard for discussions both publicly and privately on how to move forward globally with research and current cellular therapies using cord blood. In addition to lectures from renowned cord blood pioneers such as Dr. Colleen Delaney of NoHLA Therapeutics/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg of Duke University, a series of panel discussions with cord blood experts from both the public and private arenas will allow participants to dig deeper into various topics and seek real world answers to challenges they face as a cord blood bank, a researcher, an oncologist, a charity, etc.

Just to name a few of the presentations/discussions we are looking forward to. . .

  • Keynote presentations from Dr. Colleen Delaney from NoHLA/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and Professor Vanderson Rocha of Eurocord
  • Research focused presentations from Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg of Duke University and Dr. Jaap Boelens of UMC Utrecht
  • Panel discussion on “The Advantages of Banking Other Tissue, and the Effect This Will Have on the Cord Blood Industry”
  • Panel discussion on “Cord Blood Expansion: How Close Are We to a Solution for this Bottleneck?”
  • Break out session on “Patient Advocacy” highlighting differences in US and UK mandates
Exclusive Roundtable/Workshop: EDUCATIONAL APPROACHES
Building on themes of collaboration, Save the Cord Foundation will lead a special roundtable/workshop called “Educational Approaches.” This roundtable/workshop will focus on the art of communication and education within the industry. Our team will work with participants in small group sessions to develop educational messages for various audiences. All participants will be given the option to feature their educational messages on our website at Save the Cord Foundation along with a backlink to their website where their teams will be encouraged to build on this message. The goal is to start a series of conversations across the globe, targeting a variety of audiences and building on what is presented at Cord Blood World Europe 2017. PLACES ARE LIMITED.

Please note, places are very limited for the “Educational Approaches” roundtable/workshop with Save the Cord Foundation. Please reserve your spot for the conference and the roundtable via the Terrapin website: http://www.terrapinn.com/conference/cord-blood-world-europe/index.stm

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Intel ISEF 2017: STEM Students from 75 Countries to Learn about Cord Blood from STCF & StemCyte

Intel ISEF 2017: STEM Students from 75 Countries to Learn about Cord Blood from STCF & StemCyte

Recognized as the world’s largest international pre-collegiate science competition, Intel ISEF is sometimes referred to as the “Olympics of Science Fairs” welcoming the brightest STEM students from more than 75 different countries.  This year Save the Cord Foundation is proud to announce that we will be there!! Together with our friends at StemCyte, Inc., we will be bringing cord blood education to the Next Generation of scientists, doctors, nurses and community leaders via this prestigious event.

Each year, millions of students compete worldwide in local and school-sponsored science fairs for an opportunity to showcase their independent research and compete for approximately $4 million in prizes at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF 2017), a program of Society for Science & the Public. Visit the official site here.

Nearly 5000 students, their teachers and mentors from more than 75 different countries attend this event annually. The research presented by students is of the highest calibre.  For example, last year’s Gordon E. Moore Award winner was Han Jie (Austin) Wang, an 18-year-old from Canada who broke new ground with his research: Boosting MFC Biocatalyst Performance: A Novel Gene Identification and Consortia Engineering Approach.

 

Intel ISEF 2017 at the Los Angeles Convention Center:  May 14-19th, 2017
Schools and the general public are welcome on “Intel ISEF Public Day” on May 18th, 2017

Learn more. Register to attend Intel ISEF 2017.

Despite decades of use in the treatment of 80+ diseases in more than 35,000 transplants worldwide, the topic of sourcing stem cells from cord blood has never been formally presented at Intel ISEF. Thus, Intel ISEF 2017 presents a unique opportunity for our team to break new ground by introducing this topic tomorrow’s leading scientists, doctors and community leaders.  Together, StemCyte, Inc. and Save the Cord Foundation will form a dynamic team whose goal will be to increase cord blood awareness and spark an interest in cord blood research by these outstanding STEM students.

STEM students prepare for Intel ISEF

Preparing for the arrival of 1700 finalists at Intel ISEF

During the course of this multi-day event, our team will be welcoming students, their teachers and representatives from countries around the world to engage in a variety of interactive demonstrations regarding the collection of cord blood, the preservation process, testing and eventual use of these valuable, non-controversial stem cells. In addition, the team will be hosting a symposium dedicated to cord blood featuring one of the world’s outstanding neuroscientist, Dr. Wise Young, M.D., Ph.D.. Dr. Young is the Global Medical Director for StemCyte, Inc., Distinguished Professor, founding director of the W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience.

Wise Young Intel ISEF - StemcyteDuring the symposium, Dr. Young will speak about cord blood’s critical role in regenerative medicine and potential treatments using cord blood for spinal cord injuries.  An engaging speaker and pioneer in the field, Dr. Young will speak to students about ground-breaking clinical trials he is leading across China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and as well as those more recently the United States, Norway and India. Dr. Young will also discuss the growing need for cord blood globally with regards to current applications and potential developments in the medical world that could stimulate a sudden increase in demand.

Students who attend Intel ISEF will be encouraged to participate in the NEXT GENERATION: Cord Blood program and to share this program with others in their communities when they return home. Students will have the opportunity to register for a free NEXT GENERATION account and newsletter focused exclusively on cord blood.

A word about our partner for this special event. . .

StemCyte, Inc. is a hybrid cord blood bank (providing both public and private cord blood banking) with locations in the US, India and Taiwan.  As one of the largest and most racially diverse cord blood stem cell banks in the world, StemCyte is actively involved in the development of new umbilical cord blood-based cell therapies. The Company supports the largest clinical study for using unrelated cord blood transplantation for thalassemia, one of the most common genetic diseases in the world, and the developments of trials investigating regenerative spinal cord therapies. To learn more visit StemCyte’s official site.

We wish to thank StemCyte,Inc. for their generous support.

 

 

Photo credits:
Top photo: Nathan Han, of Boston, Massachusetts, who won the Intel ISEF 2014 Gordon E. Moore Award, celebrated with the finalists from Massachusetts (Chris Ayers Photography/Society for Science & the Public)
Middle photo: Preparations behind-the-scenes for Intel ISEF (April Rietze Photography/Society for Science & the Public)
Bottom photo: Dr. Wise Young (Rutgers University/W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience)

Mother of Four Won the Battle Against Breast Cancer and Leukemia: Deb Martell, Part 4 #WeCanICan series

Mother of Four Won the Battle Against Breast Cancer and Leukemia: Deb Martell, Part 4 #WeCanICan series

Mother of four, Deb Martell fought breast cancer and won only to discover nine years later that she had developed leukemia (AML). Cord blood saved her life.

Part 4 in our #WeCanICan: Beat Cancer with Cord Blood series, in association with World Cancer Day

Life is so simple. You are born. You go to school. You meet someone nice, get married, have a few kids. . . and boom! Cancer.

Cancer does not discriminate. It can pick on anyone and at any time. Originally from Wisconsin, Deb Martell moved to Denver in 1997 with her family. She was 36 years old at the time and a proud mother of four adorable children aged (4, 6, 9 & 11). Life was moving along nicely and very busy due to the move. So, you can imagine how shocked Deb was when she learned she had breast cancer just two months after the move.

Deb’s doctors moved quickly to put her on a hard course of chemotherapy. They also performed an autologous transplant (using her own stem cells), considered a radical treatment in the late 90’s. The treatment saved her life but also damaged her body severely. In particular, the harsh chemo treatment would prove to have a potentially fatal long-term side effect. Everyone knew there was a risk of this but Deb knew she was facing a life or death choice. She followed her doctor’s advice and won a second chance at life. She won the battle against breast cancer!

Fast forward nine years. . . Deb was enjoying her new life and so grateful to have beaten breast cancer. She and her family had moved again. Now, they were living in Wisconsin. The kids were growing up fast. Her oldest was now 20. The youngest was 13. All were keeping her busy with school runs, getting everyone to afterschool activities like hockey and soccer and volunteering at the church.

This was 2007 and Deb had just returned from dropping her second son off at college. She knew something was wrong. She felt incredibly weak. She made an appointment with her doctor. They drew some blood and realized that she needed two units immediately. A bone marrow biopsy was ordered for the next day. Deb was told that she had been diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukaemia). It was serious.

As the testing progressed, her doctor realized that she also had a “Chromosome 7 Abnormality” which most likely developed following the heavy chemotherapy she received back in 1998. The intense chemo treatment had saved her life but forever altered her body.  The fact remained that now she had leukemia and required immediate treatment. The doctor advised her to check into the hospital that same day so that she could start a week of chemo in preparation for a stem cell transplant. They would start looking for a bone marrow donor immediately.

WeCanICan - World Cancer Day - Beat Cancer With Cord Blood - Deb Martell

Deb Martell: Two-time Cancer Survivor – #WeCanICan: Beat Cancer with Cord Blood

Deb immediately thought of her kids, “What? . . . but I can’t. Not today. I have to pick up my kids, make arrangements, I can’t just drop everything and start chemo.” Yes, the realities of motherhood often do not line up with the realities of the medical world. Deb did her best.

She quickly organized the necessary logistics for her children and made calls out to everyone to see if they could be a possible bone marrow donor. Everyone stepped into action. A network of family and friends was set up on Caring Bridge. Deb started chemo that weekend.

Deb’s doctors St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee had hoped that her brother would be a possible match for a bone marrow stem cell transplant. However, the criteria for a bone marrow transplant are strict and sadly he was not a match. Was there another option? Deb was desperate.

A hero emerged. . . Dr. Robert Taylor at St. Luke’s recommended she speak with a colleague of his who was doing exciting work using cord blood to fight cancer. This one conversation would save her life. Deb is grateful to this day that Dr. Taylor truly explored all options. He thought out of the box and put her in touch with Dr. Claudio Brunstein at the University of Minnesota – Fairview Hospital.

Deb met with Dr. Brunstein and the decision was made that a cord blood stem cell transplant would be her best hope for survival. The matching process would be easier than for bone marrow and hopefully they would only need one cord since she was considered a relatively small adult in terms of weight and height. The search began.

Deb proceeded with the chemo treatment and began to prepare her body for the transplant. She started to have numerous adverse reactions and issues with platelet transfusions because of the many antibodies in her system. The Blood Center of Wisconsin did an amazing job of finding the specific HLA matched platelets she needed.

Good news . . . Dr. Brunstein had found a cord blood donation that matched! Not only did it meet the basic criteria for matching, it exceeded it. The cord could have come from anywhere in the world but in Deb’s case it was found in the US which made logistics much easier. That donation turned out to be a 6 to 6 antigen match! Dr. Brunstein and his team also said that it was the largest cord blood collection they had ever seen. That meant that they would not need a second one. One would be enough!

Deb received her cord blood transplant on December 18th, 2007. She ended up staying in the hospital for a total of 36 days and then a local apartment for 3 months during which time she was separated from her family as they continued with school and work. However, her recovery progressed nicely. She did not suffer any problems with Graft versus Host Disease (another benefit of using cord blood instead of bone marrow). Her blood type changed from A+ to O+ and she developed an allergy to cashews. Overall, she made a quick recovery and her doctors were very impressed saying that she was an “exceptional cancer patient.”

Cancer survivor, mother of four, attends family wedding

Post cord blood transplant, Deb Martell attends a family wedding.

This past December, Deb celebrated her 9th birthday. Yes, it has been 9 years and she is cancer free! As you can imagine, Deb takes nothing for granted in life. She wakes up every morning and follows a routine filled with gratitude and healthy choices. “I thank God every morning for my very breath and the blessing it is to live another day. My day starts with prayer and thanksgiving and coffee with coconut oil and raw honey! Followed by my workout (usually),” she says.

Indeed, the experience has taught her and her family to be grateful for so much. Her fight against cancer has also influenced her kids in choices they have made. . . one becoming a lawyer, another a nurse. All of them are intent on making the world a better place. Deb and her family say now that they “don’t look at problems that other people see and give up. We try to learn from those problems.”

Thanks to cord blood, Deb was given another chance at life. Thanks to this valuable medical resource, she has been able to attend graduations, watch her kids blossom, enjoy the outdoors (love this photo of her kayaking!), work part-time . . . she is living and loving life!!

What is Deb’s advice to other cancer patients?

  • Be grateful. Take nothing for granted!
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle post-treatment. Deb keeps a non-toxic home as much as possible. Her goal every day is to protect and build her immune system. She eats gluten-free, corn-free, non-processed foods, . . . She stays health through choices that she makes daily.
  • One of her favorite rituals which she highly recommends is making a morning smoothie. Deb shared her recipe with us. Looks yummy!
Deb's Smoothie Recipe

1 cup organic spinach

1/2 an avocado

1 heaping T of coconut kefir spread (I get this locally so I’m not sure it’s available everywhere, but use something that has probiotics and live cultures.)

heaping T of LIVfit Superfood Blend or your choice of protein powder

1 small fairly unripe banana

1 cup organic frozen mixed berries

2 tp of cacao powder

8 oz of coconut water or filtered water

1 T of raw honey if you need more sweet

Blend and enjoy!

 

world cancer dayCord blood is an incredible medical resource. Since 1988, there have been more than 35,000 cord blood transplants worldwide.  Far from science-fiction, cord blood is currently used to treat over 80 diseases including sickle cell anemia, lymphoma and leukemia. Cord blood is also proving key for exciting research in regenerative medicine to potentially treating things like autism, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, diabetes. . .

Learn more about how cord blood is used to fight cancer by meeting others whose lives have been saved thanks to cord blood.  Discover the full #WeCanICan: Beat Cancer with Cord Blood series (in World Cancer Day).

#WeCanICan : Beat Cancer with Cord Blood – World Cancer Day

#WeCanICan : Beat Cancer with Cord Blood – World Cancer Day

Don’t sit back! Get up and spread the good news! #WeCanICan beat cancer with cord blood!  It is already happening and we are going to celebrate cord blood’s success on World Cancer Day 2017.

Join us to spread the word to parents and medical professionals about this valuable medical resource. Let’s encourage more parents to save the cord. Let’s encourage more hospitals to launch public cord blood donation programs.
Save the Cord Foundation_World Cancer Day

Save the Cord Foundation is a proud participant in World Cancer Day 2017 (visit the WCD site). Of course, cancer awareness and cord blood education go year round but this February 4th everyone is making a special effort to get the word out! Why is this important?  First of all, though doctors have not yet “cured” cancer it is fair to say that huge progress has been made. Part of that progress is largely due to cord blood!

At Save the Cord Foundation, World Cancer Day 2017 will kick off a series of articles and interviews with cancer survivors, the doctors who treat them and, of course, parents who have donated their child’s cord blood. Join us as we reach out to members of the medical community and parents to explain how cord blood is being used to treat 80+ diseases including many blood cancers.

Discover our #WeCanICan: Beat Cancer with Cord Blood series:

Part 1:  Nathan Mumford: Living Proof We Can Beat Cancer with Cord Blood

Part 2:  Diane Paradise: Game Over Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Part 3:  George Cannette: Stronger Than a Hurricane!

Part 4:  Deb Martell: Mother of Four, Won the Battle Against Breast Cancer and Leukemia

 

 


FACT:  Cord blood is often used to treat things like lymphoma, leukemia and sickle cell anemia.

We support public cord blood donation programs worldwide like Be The Match, State led programs like the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program (US), Hawai’i Cord Blood Bank (US)Jeevan Cord Blood Bank (India), Anthony Nolan (UK), Canadian Blood Services (Canada) . . . the list goes on. But, the key to these programs is having doctors and nurses on board in each hospital.

FACT:  Once thought of as experimental, cord blood transplants have become more and more common. Since the first cord blood transplant was performed on a patient suffering from Fanconi Anemia over 25 years ago there have been more than 35,000 umbilical cord blood transplants in the world. 

There is also an urgency to increase cord blood donations from minority and mixed race families, just like with bone marrow donations.

Current practice in most hospitals is to just throw cord blood away as medical waste when a baby is born.  However, cord blood holds tons of valuable non-controversial stem cells.

FACT:  Collecting cord blood does not hurt the mother or child and can be collected safely in the majority of births.

Our mission is remind doctors, nurses, midwives and parents of these facts. And to remind them that there are people waiting for a donor to treat their cancer. Together, #WeCanICan beat cancer with cord blood. Every action is important on #WorldCancerDay!

Give life twice.  #Savethecord.


 

In addition the materials provided by Save the Cord Foundation, we invite you to discover these tools and facts sheets on cancer awareness, prevention and treatment (source: World Cancer Day & the Union for International Cancer Control) :

ScreenHunter_49 Jan. 29 12.47World Cancer Day: Build a Quality Cancer Workforce (download) 

 

 

 

ScreenHunter_50 Jan. 29 12.50World Cancer Day: Mobilise Networks (download) 

 

 

 

ScreenHunter_51 Jan. 29 12.52

World Cancer Day: Shape Policy Change (download)

 

 

 

ScreenHunter_52 Jan. 29 12.53World Cancer Day: Take Control of My Cancer Journery (download)

 

 

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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.

Support Save the Cord Foundation

Our mission depends on supporters like you. Please support our cause by making a donation or promoting our website and message where you can. We appreciate all the support!
(We NEVER ask for cash donations. Online donations are easier and safer. Thank you.)

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