STEM CELL CONFUSION COULD HAVE DIRE EFFECTS

January 18, 2012 by Donald Hudspeth
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January 18, 2012

When you hear the term “stem cells”, what comes to mind? Religious controversy? Ethical debate? embryonic stem cell research? These associations are common, and unfortunately could be limiting how often stem cells are donated for use as a life-saving transplant.

Many people equate stem cells with embryonic stem cell research but non-embryonic (or adult) stem cells are different and they’re used every day in modern medicine to save lives. Furthermore, to date, embryonic stem cells have not been used for many human therapeutic purposes.

Nearly everyone knows someone that has had or needed a bone marrow transplant, but did you know that the transplant is actually of a type of stem cell? There are several types of adult stem cells that are far removed from their controversial embryonic cellular parents. Adult stem cells can be found in the bone marrow, peripheral blood, umbilical cord blood, fat tissue, teeth and many other sources.

Over 100,000 stem cell transplants have been performed in the U.S. Bone marrow was first used in the late 1960’s for transplants to combat leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases. In the late 1980s, the first transplant using umbilical cord blood stem cells was performed. The success of this first cord blood transplant has led to several thousand more patients being treated with stem cells. Additionally, adult stem cells are being used in the field of regenerative medicine to further develop uses for these special cells in fighting other diseases.

The beauty of umbilical cord blood stem cells is that these cells are collected from what was once considered medical waste. After the normal delivery of a baby, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut, and about 150mL of cord blood remains in the cord. This cord blood is rich in stem cells that can be used as an alternative to bone marrow stem cells for transplantation. These stem cells from the cord blood can be used for treating more than 75 diseases.

In addition to the easy and non-invasive collection process for cord blood, these cells offer a few advantages over bone marrow stem cells when used for transplantation. Stem cells from cord blood are biologically much less mature than those from bone marrow of an adult donor. If we think of the immune cells as “warriors,” the “warriors” found in the adult marrow donor sample are fully capable of fighting and therefore a common problem in a bone marrow sourced stem cell transplant is graft vs. host disease (or GVHD). GVHD occurs when the donor cells attack the recipient cells and tissue as foreign. This can cause a very severe problem for transplant recipients and is a form of reverse rejection.

With cord blood sourced stem cell transplants, GVHD is typically far less prevalent and far less severe. This is because the “warriors” are less mature. The cells are not as capable of fighting. This is the same reason that newborn babies often constantly battle sniffles and colds; their immune system cells are not yet fully functional.

In the transplant setting, having these functionally immature immune cells allows the matching between donor and recipient to be less important. In a bone marrow source transplant, the donor must perfectly match the recipient, whereas in a cord blood sourced transplant, a less-perfect match can be used with similar success. This leads to more patients being able to find a suitable stem cell source for their needed transplant. According to recent data from the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), non-Caucasian recipients in need of transplant are more likely to find suitable matches of cord blood stem cells than from adult marrow donors.

You can donate your cord blood for free or privately store it for a fee through the Altamonte Springs-based Cord For Life®. Because of cord blood, many more people, especially non-Caucasians, can receive the life-saving treatment they desperately need.

Winter Park/Maitland Observer

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Our purpose is to provide the expectant mothers with information necessary to discover the lifesaving potential of umbilical cord blood.

Copyright Cord for Life 2019. All rights reserved.

Deborah A. Sardone

Ms. Sardone has over 30 years of clinical laboratory experience as a Clinical Laboratory Technologist and Supervisor, including over 25 years with Central Florida Regional Hospital (CFRH). She was Supervisor of Quality Assurance, Safety and Education at CFRH for 11 years, held the positions of Blood Bank Supervisor for 11 years, and Hematology Supervisor for 1 year. She has participated in both sides of the inspection process, serving on the College of American Pathologists Inspection team for CAP Hospital Accreditation in Florida, and assisting in receiving accreditation by The Joint Commission (TJC), American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through the inspections of the clinical laboratory. Ms. Sardone is licensed by the State of Florida as a Clinical Laboratory Technologist in Immunohematology, Hematology, Serology and Clinical Chemistry. She is a certified Clinical Laboratory Technologist with the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP). Ms. Sardone serves as Manager of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs at Cord For Life, Inc. overseeing all licensing and regulatory agencies to ensure that the highest quality in all aspects of cord blood collection, processing, and storage is maintained.  Ms. Sardone has been with Cord For Life for over 5 years of dedicated service. Her skills and knowledge in blood banking and quality assurance have enabled her to establish, implement and maintain a superior quality system that meets and exceeds all standards and regulatory requirements for Cord For Life, Inc.

Personal Background:

  • Sardone is a graduate of The City University of New York in Medical Laboratory Technology.
  • Sardone is licensed in Florida as a Clinical Medical Technologist and she is nationally recognized as ASCP Certified.
  • Sardone enjoys photography and dancing.

Kelli Cable

Ms. Cable has 35+ years – experience in Office, Management, Human Resources, & Customer Service. As the Director of Administration and Client Services, Ms. Cable joined Cord for Life in December 2006, and has assisted in providing more efficient and effective ways to ease the enrollment process, as well as obtaining and establishing excellent customer care during the enrollment and donation period; for our Storage and Donation customers.

Personal Background:

  • Mrs. Cable is married and has two boys.
  • In 1994, Ms. Cable moved to Orlando from Boulder, Colorado.
  • Has a passion for travel and enjoys watching NFL games, cheering on her favorite team, the Denver Broncos.

Donald Hudspeth

Mr. Hudspeth has over 28 years of clinical laboratory experience as a certified Medical Technologist (ASCP), including ten years with the University of North Carolina Hospitals and 18 years with Cord for Life. Mr. Hudspeth is licensed by the State of Florida as a Clinical Laboratory Supervisor in Immunohematology, Hematology, Serology, Clinical Chemistry, Molecular Pathology and Microbiology as well as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist and has completed the AABB Certification in Cellular Therapies through George Washington University.

Mr. Hudspeth is a registered Technologist with the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and a member of the Cord Blood Association. He has also enjoyed teaching Immunology to Clinical Laboratory Science and medical school students at UNC while working in the UNCH clinical labs.  Mr. Hudspeth is an Eagle Scout with 5 palms and has served numerous volunteer positions within the local Scouts BSA Troop and Pack.

Personal Background:

  • Mr. Hudspeth received his Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Laboratory Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • “Eagle Scout with Five Palms”
  • Avid golfer with a 14 handicap.

Sara Irrgang, M.D

During the last two years of Medical School, Dr. Irrgang was in the United States Navy 1915 Ensign Program and completed a clerkship at the Naval Hospital at Charleston, South Carolina as well as a research clerkship at the Naval Aerospace Institute at Pensacola, Florida. Dr. Irrgang completed her four year Pathology residency at Baylor University Medical Center, and her internship at the University District Hospital, Rio Piedras in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Currently, Dr. Irrgang is Board Certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and licensed in the states of South Carolina, Texas, New Jersey and Florida and she is an Associate Medical Examiner at the District Nine Medical Examiners Office. Dr. Irrgang is a fellow at numerous organizations including; The College of American Pathologists, National Association of Medical Examiners, Florida Association of Medical Examiners, Seminole County Medical Society, and the Florida Medical Society.

Personal Background:

  • Dr. Irrgang received a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from the University of South Carolina.
  • Attended the Medical College of South Carolina at Charleston where she earned a Medical Doctorate Degree.
  • Dr. Irrgang has a passion for breeding show horses
  • Dr. Irrgang is a 4-H leader in Lake County, Florida
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