June 12, 2013
Carla Roberts, MD, PhD, appeared on 11 Alive’s “Atlanta & Company” on June 12 to explain Emory Healthcare’s public cord blood banking program. In March, Emory University Hospital Midtown began offering patients the opportunity to donate umbilical cord blood to help others who are sick with blood diseases and disorders.
Dr. Roberts, who is associate professor in Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics and Chief of Service at Emory University Hospital Midtown, appeared with representatives from the Be the Match Registry and Piedmont Healthcare.
Dr. Roberts emphasized that cord blood banking is safe to both mother and child, and she explained the benefits of cord blood transplants compared to bone marrow transplants.
“When we do a traditional bone marrow transplant, it doesn’t have a very good shelf life. The recipient, the donor, and the transplant surgeon all need to be in the same place. With cord blood, we can obtain the cord blood, freeze it, and it remains viable indefinitely until there’s a match. With a bone marrow transplant, you need to match 6 of 6 antigens for it to work, but with cord blood, you only need 4 of 6, so there’s a much larger group of people who can find a match.”
Emory’s cord blood program is made possible by a grant from the from the Abraham J. & Phyllis Katz Foundation. Patients expecting a baby are asked if they’d like to donate their baby’s cord blood at no charge; patients who’d like to privately bank cord blood are still able to do so for a fee. Because of the diversity of patients seen at Emory University Hospital Midtown, samples collected there may serve a greater diversity of people with blood disorders.
Following her appearance on “Atlanta & Company,” Dr. Roberts commented further on the impact these donations have now, as well as the potential they hold.
“We have to be smart. Understanding the basic facts of science and medicine allow for these amazing medical breakthroughs. Technology such as umbilical cord blood stem cell transplants allows us to restore and improve the quality of life of every man, woman and child suffering from the more than 80 currently known types of blood cell disorders,” she said.
“On the horizon, exciting new research using umbilical cord blood stem cells is showing potential as a treatment for insulin-dependent diabetes, repair of brain injury such as cerebral palsy and vascular reperfusion, and repair of heart muscle damaged after myocardial infarction.”