Illinois State University recently reported on a 2009 Coleman Foundation grant to support various programs and activities of ISU's Entrepreneurial Studies Department in its efforts to develop an ongoing and sustainable program.
A recently published study funded by The Coleman Foundation indicates an opportunity exists to increase treatment options for certain cancer patients of African-American and Hispanic heritage. A new pilot program will commence shortly in an effort to realize this opportunity.
Contained within a new mother's umbilical cord after the delivery of her baby are stem cells. These cells, known as hematopoetic progenitor cells, can be painlessly collected by a doctor or medical technician immediately after delivery of the baby for the purpose of donation for use in transplant procedures to treat cancer and other diseases. The Coleman Foundation has established a goal to support the increase in altruistic cord blood donations from across Chicagoland, especially in minority communities, to facilitate greater availability of hematopoietic progenitor cells for transplant and research purposes.
The study was done by HealthConnect One, Mercy Hospital and the University of Illinois at Chicago, and involved focus groups of African-American and Hispanic women. The results indicate that women are interested in donating their umbilical cord blood and would do so if provided the opportunity. Lack of basic information regarding umbilical cord blood, its harvesting and use, and the steps and conditions necessary to donate were primary barriers to donation. Women expressed confusion over the differences between altruistic donation and the private banking alternative which involves a family paying a private entity to store cord blood stem cells for their exclusive use.
Doctors were viewed as critical sources for information about donation, although women expressed skepticism about doctors' ability to convey sufficient information during short office visits. In response to these results, a three-month pilot is taking place at Mercy Hospital and Mt. Sinai Hospital, both in Chicago, accompanied by trainings of community health workers at clinics and organizations serving women who deliver at those hospitals. A outreach "toolkit" developed by HealthConnect One in consultation with hospital professionals, transplant doctors, cord bank professionals and community health workers will be used by health workers to educate potential donors about umbilical cord blood donation.