News

Dan Berger Cord Blood Program Expands to UPMC and Beyond

3/1/2009
Filed under Dan Berger Cord Blood Programand Magee-Womens Hospital

The Dan Berger Cord Blood Program has expanded to other UPMC hospitals including Horizon - Shenango Valley, Mercy, and Northwest. Other outlying hospitals are working to start their own programs and include St. Vincent Health Center in Erie, PA, St. Clair Hospital, Trinity Medical Center in Steubenville, OH, and Indiana Regional Medical Center in Indiana, PA.

The cord blood programs have been created in compliance with House Bill 874. The bill requires hospitals that provide baby delivery services to disseminate information to women about umbilical cord blood banking and if desired, to arrange for the collection of cord blood.

"Magee's cord blood program is unlike any other in the country," said Dennis English, MD, vice president of medical affairs at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, who also provided medical input into the development of HB 874. "Once our program was up and running, we felt strongly about expanding the program to outlying hospitals in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. We are pleased with this program's development but hope to continue its rapid growth."

The Dan Berger Cord Blood Program gives pregnant patients three options for their baby's umbilical cord blood, making it a one-of-a-kind program. Patients can donate their baby's cord blood to the public bank ITxM Clinical Services to benefit members in the community, donate to research, or preserve in one of three contracted private banks for their family's own use, including ViaCord, CorCell, or Cord Blood Registry.

"I'm thrilled with the program's success," said Carol Berger, wife of the late Dan Berger, whom the program is named after. "When I approached Magee-Womens Foundation about establishing a cord blood program, I was hopeful. Any expectations I had initially have been met and exceeded. What impresses me the most now, though, is the way the community has responded with philanthropic support. People out there recognize how important this program is."

Established in the fall of 2007, The Dan Berger Cord Blood Program currently totals 991cord blood collections. Currently, the national collection rate averages about 20 to 25 percent. Magee leads the nation with a 35 percent collection rate. Also, the program has attracted more than $340,000 in funding from corporations and individuals to date.

The cord blood program is named for the late Dan Berger, a Pittsburgh attorney who had a successful stem cell transplant to overcome leukemia and lymphoma. In July of 2006, Dan's heart failed. During the course of his cancer treatment, Dan and his wife, Carol, recognized the lifesaving potential of umbilical cord blood stem cells.

The Dan Berger Cord Blood Program was established by a lead gift from the Berger family in partnership with UPMC Health Plan and Highmark Foundation.

To learn more about The Dan Berger Cord Blood Program, visit www.danbergercordblood.org, or contact Mary Wiegel at mwiegel@itxm.org, 412-209-7479, or 412-327-6025..

To support The Dan Berger Cord Blood Program, visit How To Help.