By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Blood Center announced that it would be closing down its four-year-old cord blood program on Sept. 15, according to Frank Prosnitz, director of the center.
New studies have been released that encourage delayed clamping of the umbilical cord, making it more difficult to collect a viable sample that can be stored, frozen and used for a future transplant, according to Prosnitz. The result will be fewer collections for a program that was already being challenged by more stringent criteria.
“We are saddened that we can no longer support the cord blood program, but heartened by the support of so many families these past four years that have participated,” said Dr. Carolyn Young, the Blood Center’s chief medical officer. “In our four years, we have collected more than 5,000 cords, 11 of which have been used in life-saving transplants.”
The cord blood program, initially begun as a pilot program in May 2009, was the first such public program in New England, according to Prosnitz. The initial aim was to not only collect the cords, but to determine the feasibility of developing a full-scale cord blood program that would have included all testing, storage and distribution, a multi-million dollar undertaking, according to Prosnitz.
“It became clear that we would not be able to achieve our goal,” Dr. Young said. In addition, she continued, “There are other viable alternatives for those that wish to bank their baby’s cord blood.”
Young directed families to Lifebank USA, a national organization that offers both private storage and public donation, and is able to facilitate collections at Women & Infants Hospital and other area hospitals.
Families are urged to contact Lifebank early in the pregnancy at (877) 543-3226.