From WILL - The Public Square -

Renee Matthews on donating umbilical cord blood

Becoming a mother is an amazing thing. It's a joyous event that is shared by you, your family, and your friends. But your joy and love can reach much farther than that. Because thousands of people with life-threatening diseases like leukemia could be helped with the right cord blood match.

My name is Dr. Renee Matthews, and as a professional educator for Illinois' local cord blood bank, ITXM Clinical Services, I have seen how cord blood gives patients and families hope. Mothers like Jenifer Crespo of Chicago who celebrates being a mom every day, thanks to another mother's decision to donate her baby's umbilical cord blood. Jenifer calls her daughter Makayla her small miracle. Makayla was born 24 weeks premature, only to be diagnosed with leukemia shortly after. But thanks to a cord blood transplant, Jenifer has been able to watch her small miracle grow into an energetic third grader.

Makayla's donor was anonymous, so Jenifer was never able to thank the woman and her child for their life-saving gift, a gift that too few expectant mothers know they have the option of giving.

In the past, umbilical cords were thrown away. But today, blood from the umbilical cord can be collected after your baby's birth and donated to a public cord blood bank. More cord blood from the people in our community means more patients - like Makayla - will get the transplant they need.

Donating is simple. There is no cost to you, and labor, delivery, and the health of your baby are not affected. After donation, the cord blood units are listed on the Be The Match Registry for any patient searching for a match.

I only wish that more expectant parents knew about this simple opportunity to give others hope. I urge you to talk to your doctor and ask how you can donate - or contact Chicago's local cord blood bank, ITxM Clinical Services at www.givcord.org, or 1-877-GIV-CORD. More information is also available at BeTheMatch.org/cord. Again, that's BeTheMatch.org/cord.