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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
January 13, 2006

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160


 
DHSS Launches Education Campaign on Umbilical Cord and Placental Blood Donation


 

          TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. today launched an educational campaign to inform expectant mothers of the life-saving value of newborn umbilical cord and placental blood.

          The campaign is part of Governor Richard J. Codey’s initiative to advance New Jersey as a leader in the field of stem cell research.  Last year, New Jersey became the first state to create a publicly funded umbilical cord and placental blood bank for use in medical treatment and stem cell research.

“More often than not, this rich stem cell source is discarded as medical waste after childbirth. But this holds too much promise to simply destroy,” said Codey.  “This pioneering initiative will enable us to pursue all options and let science point the way to stem cell cures, offering hope to the millions of people that suffer from life-threatening conditions.”

At The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, the department today held the first of a series of education and training sessions for obstetricians, nurses, midwives and others who work with pregnant women.  Over the next two months, sessions will be held at eight hospitals in northern and southern New Jersey.

          Umbilical cord and placental blood is a rich source of stem cells that can be used to treat leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and other life-threatening conditions.  However, for medical treatments to succeed, stem cells must be genetically matched to the patient.    

 “In a state as diverse as ours, it’s important that women giving birth learn about their donation options,” Commissioner Jacobs said.  “When parents from many racial and ethnic groups choose to donate, they increase the chances that all New Jerseyans will be able to take advantage of life-saving treatments for disease.

“By donating, you can also advance stem cell research into potential new treatments for deadly or debilitating health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease,” Dr. Jacobs added.

Following birth, a baby’s umbilical cord and placenta are usually discarded.  When a mother chooses donation, the health care provider collects cord blood after the umbilical cord is cut and processes it for storage and later use.  There are no health risks to mother or baby, who are not affected by the donation process.

Governor Codey directed DHSS to oversee two pilot cord blood donation projects, one in northern and one in southern New Jersey, and to develop a campaign to help health care providers educate pregnant women about cord blood donation.

The pilot programs are being established at the Elie Katz Umbilical Cord Blood Program at Community Blood Services in Paramus, and the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden.  The two programs also participate in the national cord blood bank inventory system that allows transplant physicians to search for cord blood matches through a single access point.

Cord blood collecting hospitals in the north are:  Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Paterson, The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, and Mountainside Hospital in Montclair.

Cord blood collecting hospitals in the south are:  Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center in Camden, Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, VirtuaWest Jersey Hospital in Voorhees, and Memorial Hospital of Burlington County in Mt. Holly.

As part of the $200,000 education campaign, the department is working with the Northern New Jersey Maternal and Child Health Consortium and the Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative to train appropriate staff at the eight participating hospitals.

Educational materials have also been developed, including a brochure for the public that answers common questions about cord blood donation.  The brochure may be viewed and downloaded at http://nj.gov/health/fhs/newborn/cordblood.shtml.

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