Eight years ago, Daniel White instructed a Birmingham-based courier to “be very careful” with the package he was shipping to Florida.
“[The contents of this box] are going to save someone’s life”, White stated.
A few days prior, White’s wife, Catherine, had delivered their first child at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, where the newborn’s cord blood was collected for donation in hopes it would spare someone’s life. While Catherine & Daniel don’t actually know if their donation saved a life or not, one thing is certain.
“It certainly wouldn’t have done any good in the medical waste bin,” Catherine said.
Catherine, a former pediatric oncology nurse of nine years, has a special connection this issue. As she cared for her patients, she looked into the eyes of many children who needed bone marrow or cord blood transplants.
“I have seen transplant successes, failures and those waiting for a match for far too long. I knew how precious that cord blood could be to another person in need,” she said.
So when it came time for Catherine to welcome her first child into the world in 2010, she couldn’t imagine letting the cord blood go to waste (which has traditionally been the case in hospitals all over the country).
However, at this particular time, there were no collection centers in Alabama; the closest was a state away in Florida.
Catherine knew this was something that needed to change. Catherine worked with her OBGYN, Dr. Ashley Tamucci with Alabama Women’s Specialists, to bring cord blood donation to Brookwood Baptist Medical Center. After several years of dead-ends, the hospital officially starting taking donations in the fall of 2014.
“I am so grateful that Dr. Tamucci saw my passion and worked to bring a cord blood bank to Brookwood to make it so much easier for women to donate their child’s cord blood,” she said.
Cord blood donation at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center is free, does not affect the delivery and only requires consent from the parents. Blood is not taken directly from either the mother or baby, making the process completely safe for both.
While cord blood donation is gaining some attention (July is National Cord Blood Awareness Month), Catherine says there is still more work to do.
“People are so used to living in a bubble and sometimes we don’t pay attention to what other people are dealing with,” she said. “It’s all about understanding that this donation is being used for good. So many people are told they need a transplant and are then also told, ‘We don’t have a match’.”
Today, White & her husband are the proud parents of two children – Anna Lynn, 8, and Harlan, 5. Working as an accountant in her family’s business, Catherine admits she does miss working as a nurse, but is excited that more information is getting out about cord blood donation.
“I think information in the exam rooms would be beneficial encouraging moms to ask the doctor about the benefits of donating,” she said. “It’s free to the mother, and it could save someone’s life. To me, it’s a no brainer.”
Shown is Catherine White with her husband, Daniel, and their children, Anna Lynn, 8, and Harlan, 5.
To learn more about cord blood donation, check out this blog post written by Dr. Sarah Aultman.
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