Read people’s experiences with cord blood collection and its use
Cord blood is changing peoples’ lives every day. But there’s a long way to go to make cord blood collection the standard of care in the U.S. By sharing their stories here, our contributors are helping to educate and inspire others to value cord blood as the life-saving resource it is.
‘The families who chose to donate their babies cord blood have saved my life.’
By: Linda · January 11, 2013
In November of 2007 I was your ordinary stay at home mom to three small boys. I got the shock of my life when I was diagnosed with Philadelphia positive acute lymphocytic leukemia (Ph+ ALL). This subtype of leukemia generally has a poor prognosis. I initially spent 57 days in the hospital and received aggressive chemotherapy. I was in and out of the hospital several more times over the next five months. I went into remission and it was determined by my doctors that I needed a bone marrow transplant to survive.
My two sisters were tested and neither was a match. We then searched the national bone marrow registry. There are millions of people on this registry but unfortunately, no match. My family and friends held numerous bone marrow drives. While they were able to add hundreds of people to the registry, there was still no suitable match for me.
At this point we were running out of options. My husband began researching other options and other hospitals. He spoke to Dr. Anthony Stein at City of Hope Medical Center in California and he thought he may be able to help me with a cord blood transplant. The great thing about cord blood transplants is that the match does not have to be as exact as in a live bone marrow transplant. As an adult, I needed two donors and he was able to find two matches for me. I flew out to California in July of 2008 and spent the next four months there.
It has been 4 ½ years since my cord blood transplant and I am happy to say that I am doing very well. The families who chose to donate their babies cord blood have saved my life and gave me the opportunity to see my children grow up. Words cannot express my gratitude to these generous people. My life was saved by a cord blood donation but many people die while waiting for the right match. I urge everyone to make the choice and save your baby’s cord blood. You have the opportunity to give the greatest gift of all and possibly save a life.
Life saving stem cells are discarded everyday. I’m so thankful my match wasn’t!
Deb · November 20, 2012
My story starts in 1998 with a stage 3c breast cancer diagnosis;36 years old, married with 4 children (11, 9, 6 & 4). The radical treatment in the late 90’s included an autologous transplant (receiving my own stem cells). The risk with that, in addition to all of the possible transplant complications, was to potentially get another cancer in the future. As you can imagine, saving my life in that moment, was my immediate concern.
I lived 9 years cancer free. In 2007, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. You have a short window for treatment with AML, about 3 months. I was immediately admitted to the hospital for a week of induction chemo. Meanwhile, the search for a bone marrow donor was underway. My only full brother was not a match. My oncologist had a colleague doing some of the leading research on cord blood transplants in adults. We went to see him and decided, if a match could be found, it was the best protocol for me.
The search ensued and a beautiful match was found; 6 to 6 antigen, domestic and the largest cord blood donation they had seen. Perfect for a small adult like me!
5 years later, I am in remission. I have a new blood type and I’m allergic to cashews! I have had no graft versus host disease (there is less of a chance with cord blood because it doesn’t have the antibodies an adult donor has). I’ve seen high school and college graduations and, Lord willing, will see my oldest son graduate from law school this spring.
Please keep spreading the word to expectant mothers!!! Life saving stem cells are discarded everyday. I’m so thankful my match wasn’t!!!