World Blood Donor Day comes with another reason for celebration this year at LifeSouth Community Blood Centers Friday, thanks to an approval for a cord blood manufacturing license from the FDA.
LifeSouth is the first blood bank in Florida and fifth in the nation to earn the license.
LifeSouth provides blood donation services to hospitals in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, and has been collecting umbilical cord blood for the past 15 years.
The new FDA approval will allow the centers to help more people, since transplant recipients are ensured the blood they receive is held to the FDA’s rigorous standard.
Stem cells taken from newborn’s umbilical cords are used to treat a range of diseases in both children and adults, including sickle-cell anemia and leukemia. John Wingard, director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at the University of Florida, said as the need for cord blood transplants increases, so does the need for high quality regulation of the cord blood.
“Each year, there are hundreds of individuals, mostly children, whose lives are saved by this (cord blood transfusion),” Wingard said.
Cord blood transplants can save the lives of those who could not find a suitable bone marrow match, he said, since cord blood transfusions can be done without as high a degree of stringent matching.
LifeSouth CEO Nancy Eckert said she is proud of the LifeSouth team, as well as the UF Health Center, for simply earning the license.
Now the focus will be on helping as many people as possible.
“What we will be doing now is expanding the program, and putting more into the bank,” she said, “and being able to help more people who can’t find matches on the registry.”