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Boro Park Nurses Who Promote Cord Receive Special Recognition in Gift of Life Ceremonies

main_boro_01.jpgNurses who are responsible for the cord blood recruitment program at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn and the Boro Park OBGYN office received special recognition by the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation on May 6th at the start of Nurses Appreciation Week. Officials of Gift of Life visited with the nurses to express their personal thanks to “the everyday heroes” who will be responsible for saving many lives, said Jay Feinberg, Founder & Executive Director. Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation launched its’ walk-in cord blood donation program in conjunction with Maimonides Medical Center in November 2007. Cord blood remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth after the cord blood is cut. Although usually discarded, cord blood is an extremely valuable resource because it is rich in blood forming stem cells. After a baby’s birth, this blood can be collected and frozen to potentially save a life in the future.

Prior to the expanded arrangement with Maimonides, the Gift of Life cord blood program, was coordinated exclusively through the obstetrician’s offices with the largest number of mothers coming from Boro Park OBGYN. Given the overwhelming response that Gift of Life received from mothers and from other obstetricians in Boro Park seeking to join the Gift of Life network of collectors, the organization decided to start a new initiative that would allow expectant mothers to decide to donate their cord blood the day they deliver their babies. In this “walk-in” program, Gift of Life Cord Blood Coordinators are permanently stationed at the Birthing Center at Maimonides, facilitating the procedure for the expectant mothers to donate their babies’ cord blood.

The day of Appreciation started out at Maimonides Hospital with a breakfast to show recognition for the nurses who help pregnant mothers donate their cord blood. Mr. Feinberg thanked the nurses for their hard work in the life-saving partnership. “Your hard work gives patients a second chance at life,” said Feinberg. He explained that through the Maimonides walk-in program as well as the Boro Park OBGYN office, Gift of Life has already successfully stored 1,000 units of cord blood. Gift of Life has already used two of these units for life-saving transplants to two babies.

Carol Kidney, RN, and Director of Nursing at Maimonides Hospital, thanked Gift of Life for their partnership with Maimonides as well as the nurses for their continued commitment to the project. “We want you all to know the great impact that nurses have on people’s lives,” said Kidney, who addressed the nurses. Feinberg presented the nurses with a plaque praising their dedication and hard work with this project.

Gift of Life continued the day of appreciation with a sponsored lunch at the Boro Park OBGYN office. Gift of Life’s partnership with Boro Park OBGYN began in 2004 when Feinberg approached the Executive Administrator, Fran Schwartz, with the idea of creating a unique partnership whereby the obstetrician’s office would serve as a recruitment site for Gift of Life’s cord blood program. Boro Park OBGYN serves a large clientele of Orthodox Jewish women in Brooklyn, the ideal community for Gift of Life’s cord blood program. “The partnership between Gift of Life and Boro Park OBGYN is one that I could not refuse,” said Schwartz. She explained that her dedication to this project stems from a chance meeting with Feinberg in 1995 at the Seattle Hospital where Jay received his own life saving bone marrow transplant. Schwartz was there at the time with her sister who was suffering and eventually passed away from Leukemia. The partnership has since been named in Mrs. Schwartz’ sister’s memory: the Leah Gottlieb Sattin Recruitment Program.

Schwartz noted that since the project began, 85% of their patients registered with Gift of Life to donate cord blood. “Gift of Life is dedicated to advancing modern medical practices that increase the survival rates of sick patients. It is an honor to be partners with Gift of Life,” she said.

Feinberg explained that usually a project like this is very costly since Gift of Life has to financially support the collection of cord blood. But in this case, Boro Park OBGYN doctors and nurses have donated their services of collecting cord blood pro-bono, saving Gift of Life thousands of dollars. Fran Schwartz was presented with a plaque honoring the support that Boro Park OBGYN has provided to Gift of Life over the last few years.

The day ended with Gift of Life representatives returning to Maimonides hospital to thank the night shift of nurses who are also involved in the cord blood program at the hospital.

Gift of Life facilitates bone marrow, blood stem cell and umbilical cord blood transplants for children and adults suffering from life-threatening illnesses globally. Its services include transplant coordination, donor recruitment, patient advocacy and public education. Through targeted recruitment in Jewish communities throughout North America, Gift of Life strives to overcome the loss of bloodlines following the Holocaust, a consequence that has made the search for genetically matched donors particularly difficult for Jewish patients.

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