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Dan Berger Cord Blood Program at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC Exceeds 1,300 Collections

Program Expands to Several Western Pennsylvania Hospitals

PITTSBURGH, April 20, 2009 — Launched in October 2007, the Dan Berger Cord Blood Program at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC has collected more than 1,300 donations of valuable cord blood, which conventionally is discarded as medical waste. Found in the umbilical cord and placenta after the birth of a child, cord blood is rich in stem cells and can be used for blood and bone marrow transplants to treat and potentially cure more than 40 diseases, including sickle cell anemia, leukemia and cancer. Since its inception, Magee’s program has expanded to various UPMC hospitals and will soon be available at other hospital systems in Western Pennsylvania.

“The Dan Berger Cord Blood Program is unlike any other in the country, since collections can be donated to research, preserved for the family’s use in a contracted private bank, or donated to the community-benefiting public bank,” said Dennis English, M.D., vice president of medical affairs at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC. “Once our program was up and running at Magee, we felt strongly about expanding the program to outlying hospitals in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. We are pleased with this program’s development and hope to continue its rapid growth.”

Dr. English provided medical input into the development of House Bill 874, under which maternity hospitals inform women about cord blood banking and arrange for the collection of cord blood.
Hospitals now offering the Dan Berger Cord Blood Program include UPMC Horizon – Shenango Valley, UPMC Mercy and UPMC Northwest. Hospitals working to launch the program include St. Clair Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pa.; St. Vincent Health Center, Erie, Pa.; and Indiana Regional Medical Center, Indiana, Pa.

“As more parents recognize that lives are being saved, they are increasingly choosing to donate their babies’ cord blood,” said Carol Berger, wife of the late Dan Berger, whom the program is named. “The stem cells derived from donations of cord blood, which otherwise would have been tossed out, are now responsible for treating and curing many serious diseases.”

The Dan Berger Cord Blood Program is named for the late Dan Berger, a Pittsburgh attorney who underwent a successful stem cell transplant to overcome cancer, but then tragically died of a heart attack in 2006. The program was established by a lead gift from the Berger family in partnership with UPMC Health Plan, Highmark Foundation, the public bank Institute for Transfusion Medicine (the parent company of Pittsburgh’s Central Blood Bank), and private banks Cord Blood Registry, CorCell and ViaCord.

For more information about the Dan Berger Cord Blood Program, visit www.danbergercordblood.com or call 412-209-7479.

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