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St. Joseph’s Health offering cord-blood donation program to expectant mothers

By Eric Reinhardt (


St. Joseph’s Health on Thursday announced a new program in which expectant mothers will have the chance to donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood to the cord-blood bank at Upstate Medical University. The facility is located at Upstate’s Community campus in the town of Onondaga. (Eric Reinhardt / CNYBJ)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Parents delivering babies at St. Joseph’s Health Hospital will now have the chance to voluntarily donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood to the Upstate cord blood bank at Upstate Medical University.

The new partnership will potentially increase cord-blood donations that will be available for public use, St. Joseph’s Health said in a release.

Cord-blood donation is “completely safe” for mother and baby; labor and delivery “is not affected,” the hospital contended. No blood is taken from a newborn; it is only removed from the umbilical cord after birth. The designation of Upstate’s cord blood bank as a public blood bank is “important in that there is no cost to donate and donated cord blood is available to anyone who needs it,” St. Joseph’s Health added.

Once donated, the cord blood will be stored in the bank and made available to transplant centers in the United States and throughout the world for patients in need. The cord-blood units will be listed on national and international registries in order to be matched to the patients who need them. Any units collected that are not suitable for transplantation will be made available to researchers, both at Upstate Medical University and around the country.

“We are pleased to be able to now offer our cord blood collection services to the parents delivering at St. Joseph’s [Health] Hospital,” Dr. Matthew Elkins, medical director of the Upstate Cord Blood Bank, said. “Through their generous donations of their child’s cord blood, they are helping others in need, either through transplantation or further medical research.”

How it works

Deciding whether to donate cord blood is “best done” during the pregnancy, per the release.

Each obstetrics practice will provide expectant mothers with educational materials about cord-blood donation and the forms required to donate. The expectant parents complete the forms at home and submit them directly to the cord-blood bank. Once reviewed, the bank will notify St. Joseph’s labor and delivery unit, which alerts the provider of the mother’s intention to donate. Once the blood is removed from the umbilical cord, the donation is then packaged and transported to Upstate’s 20,000-square-foot facility that features a processing laboratory and cryogenic storage containers.

The Upstate cord blood bank operates under “strict” guidelines and protocols, established by state and federal health organizations, including the New York State Department of Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, Maryland–based AABB Center for Cellular Therapies, and the Omaha, Nebraska–based Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy.


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