Nov
2

What is Cord Blood?

belly buttonSince my goal is to raise educational awareness of cord blood preservation I thought the best place to start must be to explain exactly what cord blood is.  Nine times out of ten when I talk to people about the importance of this cause the first question they ask is, what is cord blood?

So, I am going to tell you exactly what it is.  Cord blood-  the blood that is found inside of a babies umbilical cord at the time of birth.   Just in case you don’t know what the umbilical cord is, it is the cord that is connected from the mother to the baby during the pregnancy that provides the baby with all of it’s nutrients to survive.

Now that you know what it is, I can tell you WHY it’s so important! The blood found inside the cord is extremely rich with stem cells. But not just stem cells, they are extra special in that they are easily adaptable to any part of the body. They can be used to treat everything from blood diseases such as Fanconi’s Anemia and Lymphoma to various medical conditions such as deafness and heart conditions and most reccently even grow new organs.  After birth, 99% of the time the umbilical cord is tossed into the trash. Until the late 80′s doctors and researchers weren’t aware of the life saving benefits of the umbilical cord blood, so this was completely acceptable.  NOT anymore, the times have changed. Doctors and researchers have made tremedous breakthroughs with the use of cord blood and it is not longer acceptable for it to be tossed in the trash.

With so many misconceptions of cord blod and the lack of understanding pretaning to it, people are continuing to allow it to be discarded as medical waste. To put it simply, this has got to stop. By tossing the cord blood, you are basically throwing a life away.

Now that you know what cord blood is and a why it’s super important, you can help spread the word to others!

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

Nov
0

Growing Organs from Stem Cells!

Miracle Worker: AKA Stem Cell

Miracle Worker; Stem cells

Thousands of people wait on transplant lists for years. They get excited every time the phone rings, because it could be the doctor calling to say we have a donor for you. Some people spend their lives waiting,  and sadly many die before they ever get that call.  

Luckily over the past few years the progress in stem cell research has grown expendentaily. At the Atala lab at Wake Forest University researchers have been pioneering a major breakthrough in regenerative medicine. Scientists have been growing organs, and tissues by using adult stem cells.  The furthest along in this process is the human bladder. Scientists have had success with the bladder since it is one of the few organs that can grow outside the body.  This research is not limited to the bladder, several other organs and tissues are showing strong signs as well. 

At the Atala Lab new organs are being grown at the record breaking speed of just six weeks!! This breakthrough technology isn’t approved for treatment yet, but promising steps are being made everyday.  Instead of waiting a lifetime for a donor, patients would wait only a few short weeks. For so many it would be the difference between life and death.

One of the most important resources of adult stem cells is the umbilical cord blood. So why do people so carelessly throw it away? EDUCATION, or in other words: They don’t realize the value. So I strongly encourage you: SAVE THE CORD, SAVE A LIFE.

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

Sep
6

“The Special Two”

Audrey, Dad, Me and Emily just days after the kidney transplant!

Audrey, Dad, Me and Emily just days after the kidney transplant!

I want to share another story from, my upcoming book!

Kidney Transplant-Part 1:

I’ll never forget the feelings I had that day, I had been dreading this moment for years and it had finally arrived. I had a lump the size of a golf ball in my throat, a relentless churning in my stomach and a sharp pain resting deep in my heart. I remember these feelings like it was yesterday.

It all started when I was 17 and I was diagnosed with chronic renal failure. I was shocked, to say the least, to be receiving such a grim diagnosis so suddenly.  I had an extremely active life style and enjoyed the same activities all the other kids at my high school enjoyed. In the course of about three months I went from feeling fine to being seriously ill and admitted into the ICU. The doctors told me that I was going to have to have a kidney transplant, and that it was only a matter of time. “ How much time?” I wondered, two weeks, a few months or years? Immediately the doctors acknowledged that I would need a donor. Luckily we didn’t have to look far. Since my younger sister, Emily was the donor for my cord blood transplant, she was a perfect match to donate her kidney.  Emily jumped at the opportunity and said “ I AM going to give Natalie my kidney, I don‘t want anyone else to do it.”  Only one BIG problem! At that time Emily was only 14, and couldn’t legally donate until she was 18. Could I wait four more years, would her kidney fit in my body, and what did this mean for Emily’s future? These are the questions that I was faced with. I was never concerned for myself, only for Emily. The thought of anything happening to her at my expense was more than I could bare.

With a very strict and regulated schedule of medications, my condition was stabilized. I was never fully able to go back to normal life, but was so glad to be out of the hospital. Under very close observation of doctors and numerous medication daily, I was able to remain stable for about FOUR years.  Let me ask you “Do you believe in miracles?” Well you should, because what I’m about to tell you is nothing short of that!  My counts had remained stable until right after Emily’s 18th birthday. This was the blessing we had all been hoping for.

When my counts had dropped to the point of no return, it was time for the transplant. Emily and I were both admitted into the hospital the day before the transplant. In the company of close friends we slept side by side in the same room. For me it was a sleepless night that felt like it lasted for weeks. As I lay in my bed next to hers, I watched her sleep, I prayed and I felt NO fear for myself. As tears rolled down my cheeks I knew that in the morning everything could change forever.

When morning came, Mom, Dad, Jeff (best Stepdad ever), Cindy (Best Stepmom ever), Audrey (Amazing sister) and my grandparents arrived. There was an uncomfortable silence in the room, as we all waited for the transplant to begin.  A short while later the doctors came in to take Emily back to the OR. It seemed as though my heart was going to stop beating. Fighting back the tears, I watched them roll, my baby sister down the hall. Not knowing if I’d ever see her alive again, I ran after her begging them to take me first. With a big hug, a kiss and an I love you, she was gone…………

There is much more to this story and many others that can be found in my upcoming book!

PLEASE share your thoughts with me, on twitter and facebook!

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

Cord Blood saved my life once and who would have imagined it could save my life twice! It is the reason I had a perfect match in Emily for my kidney transplant and the reason I am able to share my stories with you. Please help me spread the news about this incredible life saving resource.

 

Sep
3

Twenty Years Post Cord Blood Transplant!

A Celebration of LIFE!

I am thrilled to say that the month of September marks the TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY of my cord blood transplant.  This is a cause for celebration, if I ever knew one! I can’t believe that it’s been two decades already. WOW…just saying that makes me feel so old.

The most shocking fact however, has to be the lack of progress that has been made in the area of cord blood awareness since my transplant. Unfortunately, nine out of ten people I speak to about this cause say they have no idea what I’m talking about. I have noticed that I have so much passion about this that I  could spend hours just explaining it to one person.

It is absolutely mind boggling to me that if everyone in the world knew about cord blood banking, there would be so much less suffering. What so many people don’t realize is that by throwing cord blood away, you are throwing a life away.

Please help me to celebrate this wonderful anniversary, by re-posting this blog post, sharing it with everyone you know, tweeting on twitter and updating your status on face book.

Together We CAN Help Save Lives

Natalie Curry

Sep
5

The Ride to far Away

Justin and I on the Caribbean Cruise

Justin and I on the Caribbean Cruise

I want to share with you a story that will be found in my upcoming book.

“The Ride To Far Away”

The year was 1989 and one family traveled to the distant place of Paris, France. One dad, one mom, one grandma and two sisters embarked upon what would be the trip of a lifetime.  When I was four years old we went to Paris for my cord blood transplant. “Why Paris” you ask? Paris had more experience with transplants of this kind and had much higher success rates. I don’t recall much of my families trip to Paris but there is one event that has never escaped my mind. In the US my mom was always with me, she was at every test, and every doctors visit. Of course I was only an infant and in the US it was very common for parents to be with their children 100% of the time.

I’ll never forget when the day had come for me to receive my radiation. This was the day that would determine weather I would be traveling home in a coffin or in the comfort of my moms arms. The radiation treatment was going to take place in a different hospital across town. Mom had made preparations to go with me to receive my treatment. When the morning arrived for us to leave the doctors informed her she would NOT be going with me,and that it was against there protocol.

With this news mom became very upset.  She knew that this could be the last time she got to give me a hug and a kiss and tell me she loved me. She knew that this could be the last time she ever saw me alive. With this huge reality sinking in the once invincible woman sat down on the edge of my hospital bed and began to cry. Up to this point in my life I had never seen her cry.

Very early in my life, practically as soon as I could talk, my Grandma J taught me how to pray. She would say “lets talk to Jesus.” We’d get down on our knees, fold our hands and close our eyes. We would pray of happy things,  to make every body safe and we would pray for my sisters at home, whom I missed so much.

When mom sat down and began to cry, I didn’t cry and I wasn’t scared. I simply said “Mommy they can keep you from going, but they can never keep Jesus from going and holding my hand.”

Mom didn’t get to go with me that day. And as you already know the radiation was a success. Now I am sitting here today very much enjoying my life! None of this would have been possible without my family and the miracle found inside of Emily’s Cord Blood.

When I was 12 I wrote a poem about this experience.

“The Ride To far Away”

It’s only ten hour away
when the men with the white coats
will come to take me away from my Mommy.
As I watch her cry I try to be a big girl.
I feel sad and I wonder is she trying to tell me goodbye ?
She tells me she can’t go with me
and hold me hand tomorrow when they take me to get that thing
they call radiation.
I listen to her words but all I notice is that sad look on her face.
She tells me they won’t let her go with me
on the ride to far away. She says it will be hard
because the men in the white coats all speak a different way
she says I won’t understand but then I stop her I guess she forgot
“Mommy they can keep you from coming but they can never keep
Jesus from going and holding my hand”
as they rolled me away I felt a big hug
then I heard Mommy say “Jesus take care of my baby”

There is more of this story and many others that can be found in my new upcoming book.

PLEASE let me know what you think!!

You can help raise awareness of cord blood preservation by tweeting on twitter, updating your status on facebook and spreading the word to everyone you know.

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

Jul
6

Have we found the cure for Diabetes?

Hopefully soon a thing of the past - Insulin Shots
Insulin Shots...Hopefully soon a thing of the past!

Insulin Shots...Hopefully soon a thing of the past!

 

It is estimated that 1 million Americans suffer from type 1 diabetes.  Among the most dangerous side effects of the disease are: heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness.   For years the only treatment for this debilitating disease has been through insulin replacement therapies.  However  in 2007 researchers from Brazil and Northwestern University in Chicago conducted a  very revolutionary procedure.  They performed stem cell transplants on 23 patients suffering from type 1 diabetes.  After radiation, the patients were injected with stem cells found in their own bone marrow.  Results from the procedure were extremely promising for the future of those suffering from type 1 diabetes.

The stem cells allowed the patients to create new healthier blood that was not dependent upon insulin replacement therapy.  All of the patients showed signs of improvement and some were insulin free for up to five years.  Although this is not a cure for diabetes it is a milestone that will likely lead to a cure in the future.

The Exciting news is that:   

  • The stem cells doctors used for this procedure are also found in CORD BLOOD!  

Even BETTER NEWS:

  • The stem cells found in Cord blood are far richer then those found in bone marrow.

My best friend Alli has suffered with the disease for her entire life. I have witnessed the struggles she has been through and know the toll it has taken on her and her loved ones.  With statistics increasing yearly, you too may know someone who is, or will suffer from diabetes.

YOU CAN HELP!  Please help me spread the word about the importance of cord blood preservation by updating your status on twitter and facebook.

Your opinions are very important to me, I invite you to leave your thoughts!

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

Jul
1

How YOU can HELP save lives!

As you may,or may not know, I am writing a book about my families medical journey’s and how Cord Blood saved my life.  I feel like I have been given a second and third chance at life so that I can make a difference.  I believe that I can make my biggest contribution by telling my story.  It is with a burning, strong and unwavering passion that I want to help others over come their obstacles and provide them with inspiration.

But I need YOUR HELP!

 I need to raise at least $5,000 to get started. You can help by clicking on the blue box titled “book donations” on the right side of my homepage. Every dollar helps, and donors can remain anonymous if they choose. A portion of the book profits will be donated to organizations raising awareness in the importance of cord blood preservation.

NO ONE should have to suffer due to lack of knowledge about this incredible life saving resource. Together we CAN help save lives!

Thank you for your support!!

Natalie Curry

Jul
Jul
0

“The Dull Razor”

Over the last couple of months, I have been writing  a book about my families couragous medical journeys and how cord blood saved my life.  Now  I have something very exciting that I’d like to share with you.  The following is part of one of the many stories that will be in the book!

-The Shaving Day-

 ……………One afternoon while grandma was with me, a nurse came into my laminair flow room holding only a sterile but dull razor.  She had come to shave  all of my hair off.  I remember sitting in the middle of my hospital  bed with tears rolling down my face while grandma held on to me tight. I wasn’t afraid or sad, I was in pain. My scalp began to feel like it was on fire! As grandma watched pieces of my dark hair hit the ground she felt sorrow in that she couldn’t ease the pain it was causing. The burning presisted long after all of my hair was gone.  A few days prior I had received a low dose of Chemo therapy to treat the bad cells in my blood.  In an effort to prevent  having  my hair gradually fall out,  the nurses felt it best to shave it off.

When Dad arrived at the hospital later and noticed what had happened, he was extremely angry! He was upset that no one had infomed him they were going to shave my head.  Not only that, but he was even more furious that they didn’t use any shaving cream or water.  He confronted the nursing and staff and as he says ”They understood all of my AMERICAN curse words!” In the days following the shaving I developed a rash on my head.  Dad says I looked just as cute with a bald head.  But that seeing it reinforced that everything was really happening.  He wanted me to have a normal childhood and knew that he had to keep a positive attitude and that one day I would………………

 More of this story and many others can be found in the completed book.

July is Cord Blood Awareness month. Together we can help save lives! You can help by tweeting on titter, updating your status on facebook and spreading the word to everyone you know!

Your opinions are very important to me.  I welcome you to share your thoughts!  This is just part of my story! I am working on writing my book now and hope to be finished within the next few months.

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

Jun
2

Interesting Facts on Cord Blood Transplants!

 I feel that cord blood transplants are more associated with children than adults. Today while reading an article about this topic I realized that this is a common misunderstanding.  It is often times more difficult to have success with adult cord blood transplants simply because of the amount of stem cells required. Doctors are now working on ways to increase the amount of stem cells found inside cord blood. This is a HUGE breakthrough! This makes  educational awareness of cord blood preservation even more  important since they can also be used for adult patients.

 A perfect or near perfect match is usually preferred for a Bone marrow transplant. For cord blood transplants however the match doesn’t need to be as close! Which makes finding a cord blood donor easier.  Since stem cells found in cord blood are the newest (youngest) form of  blood cell there are often times less complications. 

Every time a child is born even if they are healthy and have no immediate use for cord blood, it is still so important to store it! You never know who might need it in the future.

Together We CAN Help Save Lives,

Natalie Curry

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