Chilean Cord Blood Recipient Reunites With Team That Helped Save Her Life

Aug 18, 2015, 14:46 ET from New York Blood Center

NEW YORK, Aug. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Catalina Infante Golowasch, a pediatric cord blood recipient, recently traveled from her home in Santiago, Chile, to visit the dedicated team at the New York Blood Center's Howard P. Milstein National Cord Blood Program (NCBP), who helped save her life more than ten years ago. NCBP is the world's first and largest public cord blood bank and provides hematopoietic stem cell transplants to patients with life-threatening illnesses worldwide.

In 2000 at the young age of 12, Catalina was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). A cancer of the blood and bone marrow, ALL causes the body to produce too many lymphocytes, or white blood cells. Catalina underwent two years of chemotherapy. Ultimately, her doctors, Dr. Juan Carlos Quintana and Dr. Humberto del Fávero, connected Catalina with NCBP, and she received a lifesaving stem cell transplant. In 2004, Catalina visited NYBC for the first time to meet the NCBP staff that helped make her recovery possible.

Derived from the umbilical cords and placentas of healthy newborn babies, cord blood contains hematopoietic stem cells much like those found in bone marrow. An alternative to a bone marrow transplant, donated cord blood is used for patients who have not found a compatible match either in their family or through the national donor registry. Most patients may not find a match, which makes donated cord blood a critical option. For more information about cord blood donation, please visit

Today, Catalina is a registered nurse in obstetrics at the Catholic University Hospital in Chile. Her experiences as a cord blood transplant patient inspired her to specialize in obstetrics so that she could work with mothers and newborn babies.

"The technology and contact between doctors from different countries really helps save lives," Catalina said. "So many people were involved to help make the process happen, and everything fell into place in a way we couldn't have predicted."

In December 2014, Catalina returned to New York to visit NYBC for the second time. She reunited with NCBP Director Dr. Pablo Rubinstein and the staff at the Long Island City facility. Now endowed with a medical background, she toured the state-of-the-art laboratories where donated cord blood is processed daily.

Since its founding in 1992, NCBP has banked more than 60,000 cord blood units and has provided more than 5,000 cord blood units for transplantation to patients suffering from life-threatening diseases. The technology developed by Dr. Rubinstein and the lab's staff has made lifesaving treatments available to more than 100,000 people worldwide.

About New York Blood Center:
Now more than 50 years old, New York Blood Center (NYBC) is one of the largest independent, community-based blood centers in the country. NYBC's mission is to serve the 20 million people in the New York metropolitan area—and more broadly, our nation and our world—by alleviating human suffering and preserving human life. 

Each year, NYBC provides approximately one million blood products to nearly 200 hospitals in the Northeast. NYBC also provides a wide array of transfusion-related medical services. NYBC is also home to the world's largest public cord blood bank, which provides stem cells for transplant in many countries, and a renowned research institute, which – among other milestones – developed the Hepatitis B vaccine and innovative blood purification technology.


About National Cord Blood Program (NCBP):
Launched in 1992, New York Blood Center's National Cord Blood Program ( at Howard P. Milstein Cord Blood Center was the first umbilical cord blood bank established to collect, process, test and store cord blood units and make them available for transplantation to any patients in need of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The NCBP has provided more than 5,000 cord blood units for transplantation worldwide since its inception and, as a public cord blood bank, accepts requests from Transplant Centers and Registries worldwide. All NCBP Cord blood units can be accessed and searched directly through NCBP's Web Search (, through Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW), the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and by calling 718-752-4710 or 866-767-6227.


SOURCE New York Blood Center