Without infant cord blood, UF law student Devon Vickers wouldn’t be able to celebrate. When Vickers was a high school sophomore and had a relapse of childhood myeloid leukemia, our care team at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital used a cord blood infusion to treat her. Unlike her first battle, when a powerful drug sent the cancer into remission, it took the cord blood infusion from LifeCord to staunch the disease.
“Without umbilical cord blood, I would not have survived my second battle with cancer,” Vickers said.
With parental approval, stem cells from cord blood are harvested from a baby’s umbilical cord just after birth and stored for future use. Typically, African Americans donate less frequently than the general population, reducing the chances that such a patient will find an appropriate donor. Fortunately for Vickers, LifeCord and UF Health were able to identify a match within a year of her diagnosis.
LifeCord recently recognized our nurses, physicians and staff with a plaque celebrating the 16 lives saved during the course of their relationship with UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.
Vickers and another local cord blood recipient, Josh Ibarriento, joined the celebration and thanked the team for their work.
“The challenges of finding a match have made me an advocate for this cause,” Vickers said. “Thank you all for encouraging people to participate.”
In 1998, UF Health, UF and LifeSouth Community Blood Centers formed a cord blood bank in Gainesville. The cord blood bank is accredited by the Foundation for Accreditation of Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation and the American Association of Blood Banks. A variety of research projects to improve our understanding of cord blood stem cells are underway.