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Karmanos' McCarthy Cord Stem Cell Bank Gets $1.4M From Feds

The J.P. McCarthy Cord Stem Cell Bank at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute has received a three-year award of $1.4 million from the Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration to expand its cord blood collection program.

The contract will allow Karmanos to bank more genetically diverse, high-quality umbilical cord blood units for inclusion in the National Cord Blood Inventory.

Cord blood is used for the treatment of leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell disease and other hematological cancers. 

Umbilical cord blood collected from the placenta after a baby is born is rich in blood-forming cells and is increasingly being used in transplants. Today, approximately 20 percent of transplant patients who do not have a matching donor in their family receive cord blood that was donated to a public cord blood bank. (Editor's Unsolicited Opinion Dept.: If you're pregnant, just check out at this link how easy and painless for both baby and you to  donate.)

This contract award will help Karmanos address a severe national shortage of minority and ethnically diverse cord blood so that minorities have access to a life-saving match. 

The J.P. McCarthy Cord Stem Cell Bank was established in 2001 as a public, nonprofit stem cell bank with funding from The Carls Foundation and the J.P. McCarthy Foundation. Because of the support from these foundations, the J.P. McCarthy Cord Stem Cell Bank has been able to continue expansion, allowing it to successfully qualify for this contract. Karmanos' J.P. McCarthy Cord Stem Cell Bank processes and stores donated umbilical cord blood collected by dedicated obstetricians and midwives at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital of Ann Arbor, and Providence Park Hospital in Novi. With this additional funding, Karmanos hopes to expand operations within the Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital; the ProMedica System of Northern Ohio; and with additional funding from the Sinai Medical Staff Foundation, Sinai Grace Hospital of Detroit.

"We are honored to receive this award and feel privileged to be able to provide life-saving cord blood for those in need of a stem cell transplant," said Gerold Bepler, president and CEO, Karmanos Cancer Institute. "This award will help us enhance the exceptional work already being done by our transplant team and allow us to specialize in genetically-diverse cord blood to help close the gap on disparities among minorities in need of a stem cell transplant."   

The J. P. McCarthy Cord Stem Cell Bank at Karmanos currently has one of the highest percentages of African-American units banked within the National Marrow Donor Registry and is one of only 25 internationally recognized banks affiliated with the National Marrow Donor Program. It is one of only nine cord blood banks in the United States accredited by The Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy. This accreditation signifies the highest standards of practice in collection, processing and transplantation.

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