Saving Lives with Cord Blood

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San Francisco’s first public cord blood donation and collection center opens at Kaiser Permanente. Pictured above, parents Erin Antunez and Britt Candell, with son Atlas.

When their son Atlas was born 6 months ago at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, Britt Candell and her wife Erin Antunez chose to donate his cord blood.

“We were excited that our child, upon entering the world, could potentially help others just by being born,” said Candell.

Antunez shared another more personal reason. Her father died of a rare blood disease.

“We would like to do anything we can to help other families so they do not have to experience the loss my family endured,” she said.

The couple were among the first parent-donors to Kaiser Permanente San Francisco’s cord blood donation and collection center, a new partnership with the Cleveland Cord Blood Center (CCBC) announced last month.

Kaiser Permanente San Francisco is the city’s first hospital to provide expectant parents with the opportunity to donate their babies’ umbilical cord blood to a public cord blood bank.

The San Francisco collection center is supported by the California Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program, a statewide public program to capture a genetically diverse bank of cord blood units available to anyone for lifesaving transplantations. A more diverse pool increases the chances of a match, particularly for minority groups and patients of mixed heritage. Minority donations are underrepresented in public cord banks.

A CCBC-trained team collects and prepares the cord blood for shipment to the Northeast Ohio center. Units approved for clinical use will be processed, stored, and ultimately listed on an international registry that is accessible by doctors worldwide.

Potential to Save Lives Worldwide

Jennifer Tagatz is the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Outpatient Liaison for the public cord blood bank. Her enthusiasm for cord blood donation and its role in treatment and scientific research inspired Candell and Antunez to donate their son’s cord blood.

In 2008, Jennifer Tagatz was a San Francisco nurse practitioner pregnant with her first child. She saw a television news story about umbilical cord blood collection and how it could save lives, especially for families from minority communities. But it wasn’t until after her twins were born a couple of years later that her interest grew.

“After I started researching cord blood donation, I realized how important it was to medical treatment and how it could save lives,” said Tagatz.

“We work day to day helping mothers deliver babies safely, and now parents have the opportunity to bank their babies’ cord blood for the greater good,” added Merritt McLean, MD, ob-gyn, assistant director of Perinatal Care at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco. “Our parents are able to include the donation of their babies’ umbilical cord blood in their prenatal plan, and are happy that their birth experience can also help other people have a new chance for life.”

The addition of Kaiser Permanente San Francisco as a donation and collection center expands CCBC’s umbilical cord collection to the West Coast. The CCBC is working to grow its relationship with other Kaiser Permanente medical centers in Northern California.

“We are excited to participate in California’s Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program with the Cleveland Cord Blood Center,” said Maria Ansari, MD, physician in chief, Kaiser Permanente San Francisco. “Cord blood units collected here have the potential to save a life anywhere in the country. Participation in a public cord blood program allows our patients to donate their babies’ cord blood to benefit the health of the community.”

For more information on public umbilical cord blood donation, go to webpages for the California Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program, Cleveland Cord Blood Center, Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, and National Marrow Donor Program.

Discussion4 Comments

  1. Donating cord blood is a great chance to help others.
    When a parent wants to donate cord blood, will CCBC team come to other Northern California Kaiser Hospitals for collection or will mom has to come to Kaiser San Francisco for delivery?

    • Hien,
      Marcie Finney, executive director of CCBC on Cord Blood, wrote that the CCBC contract is specific for Kaiser Permanente San Francisco and they cannot accept donations from other facilities at this time.

  2. I would love to see cord blood donation at all Kaiser Permanente facilities. I use the Modesto facility and would love to have this opportunity for my next child birth.

    • Sherry,
      Marcie Finney, executive director of CCBC on Cord Blood, wrote that CCBC would be interested in another site. They have just started discussing with UC Davis, which manages the state-run program. Finney added that there is another Kaiser Permanente site that has expressed interest, and they are in discussions. Thank you for your interest.

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