Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fund-Raising Begins for Bay Area Cord Blood Bank

Rick DelVecchio, writing for Catholic Online, describes an exciting development in San Francisco:

St. Cecilia Elementary School students holding red kites they made in memory of Joanne Pang, a St. Cecilia fourth-grader who died of leukemia in 2003 at the age of 9, gathered on the steps of San Francisco City Hall to mark the opening of a $2.5 million fund-raising drive for the first umbilical cord blood bank in the Bay Area.

The Northern California Umbilical Cord Blood Bank will provide stem cells for transplantation into cancer patients as an alternative to bone-marrow transplants, which are in limited supply and are painful for donors and patients. Dr. Jordan Wilbur, a pediatric oncologist, said a quarter of children with leukemia cannot be cured because suitable bone-marrow transplants cannot be found. With umbilical cord blood donated by mothers, “We now have the potential to cure all patients,” he said.

Housed at UCSF Children’s Hospital, the bank is expected to begin taking donations by early 2009. The goal is to have 5,000 or more banked cord blood units within five years, with an emphasis on extensive genetic diversity...