Because of a disproportionate gap in health care coverage, among other things, African-Americans tend to be at higher risk for many life-threatening illnesses, including but not limited to breast cancer and heart disease. They also, often, lack access to treatment options and donors. To find out how you can help bridge this gap and to learn more about the unique organ/blood donation & transplantation issues that affect minorities, CLICK HERE. To learn more about the benefits of cord blood stem cells, click here. -NewsOne Staff
Cleveland, Ohio (CNN) — Diana Tirpak was so sure her leukemia was going to kill her, she bought a suit for her husband, Jake, to wear at her funeral.
“I was bound and determined he was going to look fine at the funeral,” says Tirpak, 68, a retired school nurse in Hudson, Ohio.
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Until recently, Tirpak would have faced a death sentence without a bone marrow transplant. But Tirpak’s physician, Dr. Mary Laughlin, turned to something deemed medical waste until recently: umbilical cord blood.
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Cord blood is rich in stem cells and easier to match than adult bone marrow because the immune cells are not developed. Also, patients can get the treatment in about three weeks — as opposed to six to eight for bone marrow from an adult donor, said Laughlin, founder and medical director of the Cleveland Cord Blood Center.
“That can be a critical time interval for a patient who is in remission,” she said, noting that doctors often fear a patient’s relapse while awaiting the transplant.