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Banking on a Cure

The Stem Cell Cord Blood Bank at Karmanos provides life-saving hope to patients with cancer and serious blood disorders
When Tonia Prinz of Brighton delivered her baby boy in September, she didn’t just bring new life into the world. She also made a generous donation that could help save a life.
Tonia chose to donate blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta after she gave birth at Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor. Cord blood is rich in stem cells that can be used to treat patients with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and other diseases.
Saint Joseph Mercy is one of four southeast Michigan hospitals that collect and send cord blood donations to the J.P. McCarthy Cord Stem Cell Bank at Karmanos. The Cord Stem Cell Bank has received long-time financial support by the William and Mary Carls Foundation and the J.P. McCarthy Foundation.
Once cord blood is received and processed, Karmanos makes its inventory available through the National Marrow Donor Program to anyone in the world needing a transplant.
“Unless the mother decides otherwise, the cord is usually discarded as medical waste,” says Suanne Dorr, director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Clinical Laboratories and the J.P. McCarthy Cord Stem Cell Bank. “That blood can potentially save somebody’s life. When a tissue match between donor and patient is identified, we send the cord blood unit out for a transplant.”
Bob Stager, M.D., Saint Joseph Mercy OB/GYN residency program director, says cord blood donations are invaluable in the fight against cancer.
“Even if one patient with leukemia can be cured, the impact is immeasurable,” he says. “The list of conditions that can be treated with cord blood stem cells is growing—who knows what we’ll be able to treat 10 years from now?”
Tonia added that she’s pleased to be able to donate her cord blood.
“There’s no greater feeling than making a donation that can help save a life,” she said.
Reasons to Donate Cord Blood
1.     Your donation can help save a life. More than 9,000 patients die each year waiting for a stem cell transplant, one-third of which are children.

2.     There is an urgent need for minority and mixed-ethnicity donors. Stem cells of African Americans, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans are in short supply.

3.     Donations help develop new therapies. Researchers conduct studies on cord blood to learn more about the biology of cells.
To learn more about the J.P. McCarthy Cord Stem Cell Bank and how to make a donation, call 1-800-KARMANOS (1-800-527-6266) or visit
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