My good friend Dr.O’Neill from Cord Blood America wrote this VERY touching article: I am so blessed to have so many amazing people in my life! Thank you to my friends Dr.O’Neill and Erin Tecca for having the courage to jump for this important cause! This Holiday season give a gift of meaning… make a donation in honor of all of your friends and family!

CBAI Gives Back
Taking the Plunge for a Good Cause

It has been almost 35 years since I came to New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center from Scotland as a Visiting Fellow to gain experience in the developing medical specialty of bone marrow transplantation. Almost four decades later, we have seen the introduction of peripheral blood stem cell and cord blood transplants being used commonly in the treatment of malignant and genetic disease. As this field now evolves into the new specialty of Cellular Therapy and Regenerative Medicine, I now realize that one of the few benefits of aging is not only that I may myself benefit one day from these evolving therapies, but more importantly, it has allowed me to put my career journey somewhat into perspective.

I was 25 when I came to New York and the city offered a young “chap” excitement and opportunity. At that time, I met a young Hematology/Oncology Fellow from South Africa, who, to this day, is one of my closest friends. Back in 1976, to celebrate the U.S. Bicentennial, he invited me to go with him to Johannesburg, not only to see the animal life, but also skydive, since his family operated that business there. I eagerly agreed, although I must confess, I had grave concerns about landing in the African bush full of lions. Unfortunately, I was unable to go at the last minute, and since then I have always had the nagging desire to “jump”. President George H. Bush jumps every year, so I thought why don’t I just do it! I am not 25 anymore, but neither is President Bush and so I recently decided to “take the plunge” in Hawaii this coming December 12th. As the event gets closer, however, I find my fear factor increasing and have considered backing out.

Getting back to stem cells and disease…I recently undertook speaking engagements for Cord Blood America, throughout the U.S., on the importance of cord blood collection for use in stem cell therapies. I had the privilege of working with a member of our Business Development Team, Ms. Lea Ann Stiller, whose daughter, Natalie, has Fanconi anemia, a rare and fatal hereditary disease. Natalie’s sister Emily’s cord blood was the very first cord blood collection and in 1989, Natalie was the first female to receive a cord blood transplant. Cord blood transplantation was new and the outcome was uncertain but Natalie’s transplant was a success and a major breakthrough. Natalie is now 25 and continues to do well.

In medicine, we tend to think that it is solely the physicians and scientists that drive the introduction of such new treatments, but after spending time with Lea Ann and Natalie, it became clear to me that these families, due to their unwillingness to let their children die, have actually themselves, through their courage and determination, paved the way for the almost 20,000 cord blood transplants that have occurred to date.
At the same time, I also had the privilege of meeting the delivery nurse, Ms. Janice Gibbs from Norton’s Hospital in Louisville, KY, who collected the cord blood for this historic procedure and who still feels the “power” of that important day.

My fear of jumping out of a plane pales in terms of Lea Ann’s fear of losing her child. To overcome my own fear, I decided, therefore, to jump to increase awareness about Fanconi anemia through the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund,, and hopefully raise some needed funds for research. I am excited to do this and grateful that I was able to put the past years in perspective and truly understand why we do what we do. It’s not just about me anymore, but something more meaningful and for that I am thankful.

To make a donation to the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund follow this link and let them know that you are donating on behalf of my sky diving jump on Dec 12th.

To all the Natalies of the world, this is for you.

To my colleague and friend, Erin Tecca, my thanks for your free spirit in joining me on the jump for this cause.

To my colleagues and friends at Cord Blood America Inc and our International Affiliates, I thank you for your support.

To our many investors, I hope this story tells another side of what Cord Blood America is all about. We work hard for you, but we work even harder for those who may benefit from these stem cell treatments.

My best wishes to all of our readers for the upcoming holiday season. I shall keep you updated.

Dr. Geoffrey O’Neill, VP of Operations, CorCell/Cord Blood America

For more information please visit the following sites:

Fanconi Anemia and to make donations
Natalie Curry and
Saving Baby’s Cord Blood