Illinois Law: Families Can Donate Umbilical Cord Blood (10/04)

In their first moments after birth, babies across Illinois are making a donation that could save the life of another child or adult. A new law that took effect inĀ 1/04 makes Illinois the first state to routinely ask pregnant women if they would like to donate the blood from their baby’s umbilical cord for the valuable stem cells it contains. Before, the umbilical-cord blood was thrown away as medical waste… For an easy-to-understand explanation of stem cells, click here. Scientists can use the cord blood to make many different types of cells in the body — to carry oxygen, fight disease and help stop bleeding. Women who deliver babies at the Trinity Birth Center or Illini Birth Center are being asked, toward the end of their pregnancy, to consider making the donation. They are asked before their 35th week to make a decision about whether they want to donate, and are then sent a kit to take with them to the hospital. “That’s been a state directive,”said Candy Talley, nurse manager/ maternal-child at Illini. “All the hospitals that deliver babies in the state of Illinois should be doing that.” Non-embryonic Stem Cells, such as the umbilical cord blood stem cells, can be used to treat a wide range of diseases, including leukemias, lymphomas, immune-system disorders and inherited metabolic diseases. State Rep. David R. Leitch, R-Peoria, heard a presentation about the benefits of non-embryonic stem cells and worked to make Illinois the first state to ask women if they want to donate. Most of the Illinois donations go to Cryobank International, a Florida cord bank that gets about 40 donations...