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Mother's Day gift

| Sunday, May 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

As people pay tribute to moms of all ages this Mother's Day, please remember that birth can give hope to many other families through donation of umbilical cord blood.

Thousands of critically ill patients with blood diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma depend on the generosity of mothers who donate their babies' cord blood to a public cord blood bank daily. Cord blood is rich with blood-forming cells that can give blood cancer patients hope for a cure. Donating cord blood can help patients get the transplants they need. However, more cord blood donations are needed so that lifeline can give birth to hope for others.

There is no cost to donate to a public cord blood bank, and it is completely safe for mother and baby. Cord blood is collected immediately after birth and does not interfere with labor or delivery. Donated cord blood is listed on the national Be The Match Registry, where it is available to any patient in need of a transplant. Since 1987, the registry has made 61,000 marrow and cord blood transplants possible.

I encourage all expectant mothers, as well as their families, friends and communities, to reflect on the gift of life this Mother's Day and consider cord blood donation. Pittsburgh-area residents have a unique opportunity to donate cord blood — an option not available everywhere.

For more information, contact Mary Wiegel, program manager and educator for The Institute for Transfusion Medicine-Cord Blood Services and the Dan Berger Cord Blood Program, at 412-209-7479 or mwiegel@itxm.org, or visit givecord.org or BeTheMatch.org/cord .

Linda Hahn

The writer is vice president, clinical services, at The Institute for Transfusion Medicine (itxm.org) in Green Tree.

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