In a decisive move by the governor and state legislature, the University of California's Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program (UCBCP) has been extended through 2022. The program enables mothers of newborns to donate their babies’ umbilical cord blood and have it publicly banked so it is available to anyone for lifesaving transplantations.
The extension was included in the State Budget trailer bill AB 114. Senator Anthony Portantino, who chairs the Senate Budget sub-committee, authored the first bill in 2006 to create the Cord Blood Collection Program.
“We are grateful to Governor Brown, Senator Portantino and our elected officials for extending the funding for this important and first-of-its-kind state program,” said Jan Nolta, director of the Stem Cell Program and Institute for Regenerative Cures at UC Davis and scientific director of the California Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program.
“Our team members at UC Davis Health and around the state work very hard to save the lives of those who need blood-forming stem cell transplants,” she said. “Continued funding ensures that this source of high-quality cord blood units will be available for patients and for qualified stem cell researchers.”
Cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after a baby is born. It is an important alternative to bone marrow for transplantation because it contains all the natural elements of blood and is rich in blood-forming stem cells. It also does not require as close a match between the donor and recipient as bone marrow.
Cord blood is used to treat more than 80 diseases, including sickle cell anemia and cancers of the blood, such as leukemia and lymphoma. Umbilical cord blood also holds promise as an important source of stem cells that could be used for potential medical therapies and treatments.
UC Davis Health administers the program, which is funded by a $2 fee on birth certificate copies. Skilled technicians collect umbilical cord after birth. Cord blood containing enough stem cells for a life-saving transplant are shipped to a public cord blood bank, where it is screened by genetic characterization and to rule out infectious disease before being stored and entered into the National Registry. Medical teams search the registry when they are looking for a match for patients who need transplants. Hospitals participating in the collection program are located in Sacramento, Fresno, the Bay Area and Southern California.
Cord blood units with insufficient quantities of stem cells to bank for transplantation are made available to qualified scientists for research.
Pregnant women interested in donating their cord blood can call toll free at 844-734-CORD (2673) or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Additional information about the collection program can be found at https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/cordblood//