Medical breakthrough Cord Blood Center opening in Oklahoma

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Oklahoma City, Okla.-Families at the OU Med Center have the opportunity to help save lives by donating umbilical cord blood, to be used as a source of life for people battling leukemia and other blood disorders.

There are only 24 cord blood centers worldwide and this is the first in Oklahoma.

Dr. James Smith with the Oklahoma Blood Institute said, “We’re really hoping to be able to meet a very special need.”

Each year thousands of people are diagnosed with blood cancers or other blood diseases.

For some, the only hope of a cure is a marrow transplant.

Umbilical cord blood can be used as an alternative to supply those needs.

The goal for Oklahoma's Cord Blood Center is to focus on the minority population.

Dr. Smith said "Vastly underrepresented in terms of having cord blood or even stem cell donations that are available for transplants.”

Mothers would have the option of donating their baby's umbilical cord, rather than just throwing it away.

Cord Blood Manager Linda Dixon said "It's very easy, we collect it, there's no pain to the mother. It's basically trash that's going to be thrown out, but it can save a life.”

From there, the cord blood is brought to the Oklahoma Blood Institute, where it's processed and stored to get the blood ready for a possible match and transplant.

"Once we bank those, they'll be in a freezer -196, essentially they're in suspended animation and they can be held for many years," said Smith.

"We've always had mothers wanting to donate their cord blood and we didn't really have anybody locally able to do that," said Smith.

Now, in Oklahoma City, we do.

Donating cord blood is free and right now only offered for minority families at the OU Med Center.

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