The couple, who live near Gainesville, Fla., has nine children. And since the birth of their first son Nathan in 1999, they have chosen to make each birth an opportunity for someone else by donating the newborn’s umbilical cord blood to a public cord blood bank.
“We like the idea of giving to someone else,” said Lindsey.
The stem cells in umbilical cord blood can be used by patients facing serious illnesses such as leukemia and lymphoma, whose best hope for a cure is a blood stem cell transplant. These stem cells act as seeds to help regrow a healthy immune system.
Donated umbilical cord blood suitable for transplant is listed on the Be The Match Registry® where it is made available to any patient in need of a transplant. Most patients do not have a matching donor in their family and rely on Be The Match® to find a matching adult marrow donor or donated umbilical cord blood unit for transplant.
Be The Match gives doctors access to 601,000 donated umbilical cord blood units worldwide. More donations—and a greater diversity of donors—mean more people have the potential to find a match.
Despite its potential, most umbilical cord blood is discarded. Often, this is simply because expectant parents do not know about the option to donate umbilical cord blood.
Dan and Lindsey explained that when they were expecting Nathan, about midway through the pregnancy, their doctor brought up the idea of umbilical cord blood donation as “something you might want to think about.” Until, then, neither knew much about it.
“He started preparing us, gave us some material to read,” Dan recalled.
“I thought it was a great idea,” Lindsey said.
On the big day, while Dan and Lindsey were admiring Nathan for the first time, Lindsey hardly noticed the doctor was busy collecting the blood from the umbilical cord.
“It doesn’t hurt the baby, isn’t invasive and has the potential to help,” Lindsey said.
Because there is no cost to donate umbilical cord blood to a public bank and the process was so easy, Dan and Lindsey chose donation when all of their other children were born too—Isaac, 12, Lydia, 10, Isabella, 8, Amelia, 6, Joel, 5, Wyatt, 3, Theo, 1, and Eleanora, 4 months. The family has donated umbilical cord blood nine times. And when Dan and Lindsey learn that a friend is expecting, they don’t wait to be asked, but offer that same suggestion their doctor offered years ago.
So, this Mother’s Day, Lindsey knows what’s in store. “They make me little things, it’s so sweet,” she said.
And this year they have another reason to celebrate. The family recently learned that one child’s donated umbilical cord blood may be a match for a patient in need.
“I think we were all excited that night at the dinner table when we heard that,” Lindsey said.
For more information on umbilical cord blood donation go to BeTheMatch.org/cord.