BARTLETT, Tenn. — Every time a baby is born, the cord blood from the umbilical cord could be stored for treating rare cancers at a later time. However, in Memphis, birth parents do not have the option to donate cord blood.
Regional One, Baptist, and Methodist hospitals all confirm to WREG their hospitals do not offer a public donation option. Instead, most of the blood gets thrown away.
Bartlett mom Cyndi Holland decided to pay to store her sons’ cord blood in a private bank. The biomedical engineer said it aligned with her values.
“Cell biology is very interesting to me and everything that could be possible from cord blood,” she said.
Donna Regan is with the National Marrow Donor Program Be the Match.
“The approved purposes are for bone marrow transplant,” Regan said. “It can reset the immune system after treatment for a cancer.”
If a person needs these cells, it can be hard to find a match.
“It could be something that a child that is currently experiencing a medical situation could benefit from but it could also go to research,” Holland said. “The cord blood is $175 a year to store it. Initial investment was about $1,200 for us.”
For those who can’t or don’t want to pay, some hospitals partner with a public blood bank to offer the option to donate, including Dr. Heather Deisher’s Brookwood Baptist Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.
“They can make a last-minute audible decision at the time of delivery,” Deisher said.
But no hospitals offer this option in Memphis. In fact, of around 150 hospitals that facilitate public cord blood donations nationwide, none is located in Tennessee, Arkansas or Mississippi.
“It just becomes very frustrating for moms when they want to do this wonderful thing and donate their baby’s first gift and don’t have the opportunity to do so,” Regan said.
“I think we’re missing out on the potential,” Holland said.
If something ever comes up medically, she knows her children are covered and she has peace of mind that if it doesn’t, she’ll donate their cells to research.
NMDP Be the Match also recommended expectant parents check with research hospitals in their area to see if they take cord blood donations.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital told WREG it does not offer this option to Memphis parents.
For more information on Be The Match, check here.