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Paying it Forward: McCall Woman Donates Blood from Newborn’s Umbilical Cord

Photo for The Star-News by Kyla Sawyer
Claire Meckel relaxes with her mother, Adrianne Meckel, and brother Jack Meckel, 5, at home in Donnelly.
By Sandra Forester, News and Community
January 16, 2015

BY KYLA SAWYER for The Star-News

When Adrianne Meckel gave birth to her daughter at St. Luke’s McCall Medical Center last month, she also found a unique way to possibly save the life of someone else.

Meckel, 35, of Donnelly, donated blood from the umbilical cord of her newborn, Claire, to a blood bank in North Carolina.

“I like the idea that you are giving birth and also could be giving life to another person at the same time,” Meckel said.

Umbilical cord blood cells have the ability to grow and develop into various types of cells throughout the body, according to the website of the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank donation program at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

The cells can be stored for future transplant into patients with many types of cancer and blood disorders.

Researchers are investigating the possibility that cord blood cells could be used to repair damaged tissues including those in the heart, brain and pancreas, the website said.

Meckel first learned about cord blood donation five years ago, when her mother-in-law, Janet Meckel, was diagnosed with leukemia.

Matching Siblings

Family members joined the registry for Be the Match, a national bone marrow donor program. One of Janet’s siblings turned out to be the perfect match.

“After going through this with Janet, you learn a whole new world of things that could be helpful for people in the future,” Meckel said.

Months before her due date, Meckel had a blood sample sent to Duke University to ensure she was a qualified candidate. She was then sent a box containing a kit for her physician, Dr. Jon Currey of St. Luke’s Payette Lakes Family Medicine in McCall.

“It’s new in the last few years, but we’re starting to see more requests for it,” Currey said.

After Claire was born, her umbilical cord was clamped while the placenta was still in Meckel’s uterus.

Currey cut the umbilical cord away from Claire and drew the blood from the placenta using gravity and an IV from the placenta into a special plastic bag that came with Meckel’s kit.

“We had about 10 minutes time until the placenta came out on its own, which is normal, so we were able to get a really good amount for the donation,” Currey said.

“It’s not scary, it didn’t hurt and the paperwork process beforehand was relatively easy,” Meckel said, noting the donation cost her nothing.

Currey had done the cord blood collection procedure before, but it was for a patient who wanted to bank their cord blood for future use for themselves.

“Adrianne’s cord-blood donation was truly a way to pay-it-forward to people who could very much need what that cord blood could provide,” he said.

Published with permission from The Star-News.

About The Author

Sandra Forester works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.