Upstate breaks ground on CNY’s only public cord blood bank

Usually, when Upstate president David Smith, M.D. addresses a crowd, there is an attentive silence. At today’s groundbreaking for the Upstate Cord Blood Bank, Dr. Smith’s remarks were frequently, happily interrupted from the front row by the very energetic Luca Vassallo. Luca, a leukemia survivor who received treatments with umbilical cord blood, beams with vitality and could not wait for his turn at the microphone.

Dr. Smith deviated from the script and smiled at little Luca. “As a pediatrician, that is what I like to see more than anything. It’s amazing, isn’t it?” The more than 100 people on hand for the event clearly agreed.

The $15 million Upstate facility will be a public cord blood bank– one of just two in New York. Being designated as public means it will accept donations from families all over the region at no cost and the cord blood stored at the facility will be available to anyone that needs it. These donations will allow lives to be saved through transplantation and will fuel research that may help to treat or even cure many diseases.

Geralyn Saya’s son, Jared, was also treated for cancer using cord blood and today he is a cancer-free 9th grader. When the Saya family stepped to the podium, it was Geralyn that spoke. “Usually, when I talk about our cancer journey, I cry,” she began. “But not today. Today is a happy day!”

The Saya’s, like the Vassallo’s, are thrilled that treatments were available that could help their son overcome cancer and that now, with this new facility opening in fall 2014, other families will also have access to them.

To learn more about the Upstate Cord Blood Bank, click here.

Cancer survivors Luca and Jared were both able to overcome leukemia after receiving treatments with umbilical cord blood. Today, they are energetic and smiling boys.

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About Susan Cole

Susan Cole is the social media editor at Upstate Medical University. She manages Upstate's presence on multiple social media platforms, chairs the Upstate Social Media Committee and works to educate our internal team about social media. Susan previously worked in global public relations and marketing communications agencies in New York City and Rochester, NY. She has worked on integrated communications programs in a range of industries-- from the fine arts to agribusiness. Currently, she focuses on social communications and how people use digital platforms to share information. To stay healthy, Susan enjoys pilates, playing with her kids and Weight Watchers recipes (she's a Lifetime Member!). She resides in her hometown of Fulton, NY with her husband and children.
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