2002-03-23 / Community

Core Blood May Be Solution To Future Health Problems

By Howard Schwach

Core Blood May Be Solution
To Future Health Problems
By Howard Schwach

Katie and Vinnie Gondalfo live in Long Beach, but their story is typical of a growing cadre of young parents in Rockaway and all over the nation.

"We were sitting in the pediatrician’s office and we saw a brochure for a process that could remove stem cells from the blood taken from our new baby’s umbilical cord," Katie told The Wave. "It looked interesting and we asked Dr. Lanzone about it. She said it was a good idea, so we did it."

"What I usually tell my patients is that it is an insurance policy for both the family and the child," Doctor Glenn Kaufman, another doctor who recommends the procedure, says. "It’s a simple process, but people would be upset if they needed it later on and did not do it."

The simple process consists of taking blood from a newborn’s umbilical, the doctor explained. It is done after the baby is delivered and the baby is not part of the process in any way.

"More and more hospitals are training staff to do this procedure," the doctor says. "More and more parents are opting for the program,"

The blood, once harvested, is frozen by one of a number of commercial companies that are entering the field. The blood can be kept for up to 25 years, although some say that it can be kept for "as long as the payments are made."

While Dr. Kaufman says that about a quarter of new parents that he sees are opting for the program, he is not sure that the percentage will get much higher than that.

"It’s not inexpensive to take the blood and then to store if for many years," he says.

Should they be needed, the stem cells in the blood can be used to treat "a whole range of cancers and other problems, including leukemia, lymphomas, enzyme deficiencies and even sickle cell anemia."

The blood is good not only for the baby, but for anybody genetically related to the baby.

"The people who came to take the blood were very professional," Katy Gondalfo says. "When we first called then, they came right away and left us with a collection package. When our baby was born, they came and collected the blood."

"We hope we never need it," she added, "but we are glad we did it just the same."

Those interested in the process should contact their pediatrician for information.

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