Success Stories: Diana Tirpak

After Diana Tirpak was diagnosed with chronic leukemia and acute myelogenous leukemia, cord blood helped bolster her immune system and send the cancer into remission.

Diana received these two diagnoses by 2007. During the summer of that year, she was hospitalized for five weeks, and went through intense chemotherapy treatment. The therapy didn’t work, and doctors gave her less than six months to live.

Diana’s oncologist, Dr. Laughlin, decided to try another dose of chemo, which put the cancer in remission. During this time, doctors administered a stem cell transplant using donated umbilical cord blood. The operation was a success, and Diana returned to her normal life happier and healthier than she was before.

Laughlin, a pioneer in the cord blood cell field, suggests cord blood as a quicker, safer alternative to more traditional bone marrow stem cells. Because umbilical cord cells are younger, they quickly adapt to new environments – this means donated cells increase the immune system and healthy blood cell count quicker, with a smaller chance of dangerous side effects. While bone marrow cells require an exact match, the versatility of cord blood allows mismatched transplants to work just as effectively as matched transplants.

Read more on the benefits of cord blood here.