Real Stories: Amber Comeens

The day that Amber and Bradly Comeens welcomed their son Reid into the world, they received one of the greatest blessings they could ever imagine. And then, something else beautiful happened: they were given the opportunity to pass the blessing of life onto someone else.

That’s because Amber and her newborn son recently became the first cord blood donors at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center.

When Amber first learned that Brookwood Baptist would be offering the chance to donate cord blood, she said “it was a no-brainer.” Being a nurse, Amber knows that the blood in a baby’s umbilical cord is teeming with life-giving stem cells, which are most commonly used to help people in need of a bone marrow transplant. She signed up without hesitation—and wants to encourage every mom-to-be to do the same.

How did you find out about the option to donate cord blood?
“My curiosity was piqued when I saw signs about donating at my doctor’s office, but before I could even ask, Dr. Tamucci brought it up. My husband and I didn’t really even have to discuss it—we knew right away that we wanted to donate.”

What made you want to donate?
“Being a nurse, I already knew how vital stem cells are in the treatment of so many diseases. But the decision also hit really close to home: my cousin’s wife had leukemia, and she ended up having a bone marrow transplant. I’ve always been all for donating anything helpful—blood, eventually organs—but knowing someone who was touched by one of those awful diseases made the decision so much easier.”

What about the experience of donating? Was it difficult or painful at all?
“Absolutely not. You don’t feel a thing, and neither does your baby. I was just paying attention to my son and loving on him, so I had no idea they had even collected it. Nothing else mattered to me in that moment; the last thing you’re going to focus on is that cord blood. All I ever really had to do was sign a couple pieces of paper.”

If you had one thing to say to moms-to-be about cord blood donation, what would it be?
“I think if people realized how easy it is to save a life, it would be a no-brainer. Like I said, all I had to do is sign a couple papers. And I hope someone else would be willing to sign those papers for me, or my son, or my husband. It’s such a small sacrifice, for such a big reward. I would just encourage them to think about it: your child, this blessing you were given, you can pass a huge blessing on to someone else. You have the opportunity to share that gift of life. Why squander that opportunity if you have it?”

• • • •

Cord blood transplants have successfully treated many different types of cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma, as well as other diseases of the bone marrow. Because stem cells are made to adapt and evolve, they are much more
versatile for transplants than adult tissue, which makes them incredibly valuable in the treatment of these deadly diseases.

Donating cord blood is totally painless for both mother and child, and is completely free of charge. When you choose to donate, your donation goes to LifeCord, the FDA licensed cord blood bank of LifeSouth Community Blood Centers. Donations from LifeCord have already provided transplants to patients in 28 states and 13 countries so far, and we are so excited that Brookwood Baptist moms now have the opportunity to join this vital effort.

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