By Brian Freed, PhD
New to the Colorado tax return form this year is an opportunity to donate to the “Adult Stem Cell Cure Fund”—a fund that provides additional resources to encourage and enable new mothers across Colorado to donate their babies' umbilical cord blood following birth. Cord blood contains adult stem cells that can be used to treat patients who have been diagnosed with life-threatening diseases. Collection of cord blood, which would otherwise be discarded following a baby’s birth, occurs after the cord has already been cut and does not harm the infant or the mother.
Each year thousands of patients are diagnosed with advanced diseases, such as leukemia, that can be treated by rebuilding the patient's hematopoietic (blood cell producing) system with blood-forming cells. Umbilical cord blood is being used as one of the sources of blood cells for this kind of treatment. This means that cord blood could give hope to not only a patient with leukemia, but also patients with diabetes, sickle cell anemia, and more.
Donating cord blood is medically safe. The cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord after birth and donating is completely confidential and free—public cord blood banks cover the cost of processing and storing of all the donated cord blood.
When a mother donates her baby's umbilical cord blood to a public bank, like the University of Colorado Cord Blood Bank located on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, it is then available to any patient in need of a transplant. If for some reason the cord blood does not meet the criteria for transplant, it could then be used by researchers in the search for new and more effective medical uses for cord blood cells, including exploring cures for many diseases.
As a major provider of Hispanic cord blood units to patients in the United States, Mexico, and Central and South America, the University of Colorado Cord Blood Bank has a 12-year history of collecting, processing, banking and distributing cord blood for human transplantation. To date, this local cord blood bank has consented 10,700 women right here in Colorado and banked more than 6,700 cord blood units, of which 450 have been used in transplantation at 100 different medical centers in the United States and abroad.
Currently, the University of Colorado Cord Blood Bank collects cord blood from mothers who deliver their babies at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, and at Denver Health and Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital here in Denver. Taxpayer donations, even if it is just a small portion of their overall tax return, will help to expand cord blood collection opportunities to women who are delivering their babies at other hospitals throughout the state.
The bill to create the Adult Stem Cell Cure Fund was first sponsored by Representative Dianne Primavera and signed into law by Governor Ritter in the fall of 2008. The resulting funds from the new donation box on the 2008 Form 104 Colorado Individual Tax return, labeled the “Adult Stem Cell Cure Fund”, will help public banks in Colorado to collect cord blood from generous mothers throughout the entire state.
If interested, more information about cord blood banking can be found at www.coloradocord.org. Please consider donating this tax year to an important cause that can save Colorado lives.
Brian Freed, PhD, is director of the University of Colorado Cord Blood Bank and a professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.