Texas Cord Blood Bank wins grant to increase quality lifesaving donations
The Texas Cord Blood Bank, a program of nonprofit biomedical organization GenCure and the designated public cord blood bank for the state of Texas, has received a grant to help minimize time between collection of donated umbilical cord blood and preserving those donations so they’re available for patients in need of a transplant.
The grant is from the National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match®. The Texas Cord Blood Bank (TCBB) and GenCure partner with Be The Match to add donors to a national registry for bone marrow, peripheral blood stem cells (PBSCs) and umbilical cord blood for patients who need transplants to help cure blood cancers and other diseases. Umbilical cord blood is rich in blood-forming stem cells, and though it’s normally discarded, moms can choose to donate their newborns’ umbilical cord blood after healthy births through TCBB. Cord blood stem cell transplantation can be an alternative treatment for patients when a bone marrow or PBSC match cannot be found.
The $67,000 grant will help TCBB add an extra courier pickup of cord blood donations from Methodist Metropolitan Hospital in San Antonio as well as an extra laboratory shift to process the donations and get them into storage and onto the registry, ready for patients who are searching for them.
“Reducing the time between collection and processing of generously donated umbilical cord blood may serve two purposes,” said Rogelio Zamilpa, director of the GenCure cord blood center. “It will help improve the quality of the donations, making them more effective for patients, and it will help us add more donations from minorities to the registry, which are desperately needed.”
Because the biological markers used in matching are inherited, patients are more likely to match someone from their own race or ethnicity. Adding more donors from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds to the registry increases the likelihood all patients will find the match they need.
According to the most recent statistics from the National Marrow Donor Program, African American patients needing a marrow or cord blood transplant have a 66 percent chance of finding a match on the donor registry; Hispanics have an 80 percent chance; Caucasians have a 97 percent chance.
TCBB piloted a similar program at an Edinburg hospital. In that pilot, donated cord blood units TCBB was able to collect for the registry increased by 58 percent; the majority were from minority donors.
“The NMDP grant will allow us to improve our processes to ultimately serve patients better. Increasing donated cord blood collections, the quality of those collections and the number of minority collections will help ensure the availability of transplants for patients who are counting on them,” Zamilpa said. The Texas Cord Blood Bank has provided about 400 transplant matches around the world and currently banks 1,200 units that are available to patients.