AUSTIN -- More than a decade ago, the Texas Legislature established a program that collects umbilical cord blood for free. Umbilical cord blood is not the blood, nor stem cells from embryos but the blood and cells that come from newborns shortly after they come into the world. One Central Texas Health Care system has made it easier for parents and babies.
The Robinson's are hours, possibly even just minutes away from the birth of their first child - a boy.
The baby's heartbeat and husband Micheal help keep Shaunise stress-free.
"Mostly I just went with what the wife wanted," said Micheal Robinson, as the room full of relatives erupted in laughter.
But in a serious moment, the couple decided to donate the umbilical cord blood from their baby shortly after his birth.
"I saw there was a need for an ethnic background of cord blood," said Shaunise. "That's when I decided I would go ahead and donate."
Typically, umbilical cord blood is discarded after the baby's birth, but researchers have its benefits.
"It's rich in blood cells," said Kerri Schneider, a registered nurse in labor and delivery at St. David's South Austin Medical Center. "Basically it's an untapped resource that we are just getting into."
The umbilical cord contains blood-making cells that can be used as an alternative to bone marrow transplants when treating cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, disorders of the blood-making system such as sickle cell anemia, and severe immune-system disorders.
St. David's is the only Central Texas healthcare system that offers the cord blood collection program to its patients at two of its facilities -- St. David's Medical Center and St. David's South Austin Medical Center.
The Robinson's say it just makes sense to donate, and not just for them.
"(It's) paying this forward, if that makes sense," said Micheal. "The more people that do it, regardless of the ethnicity, we're helping the human kind, the human race advance and helping the generations two or three generations from now."
"It's definitely an advantage for us or anyone else who would need that for cancer research or any other types of diseases," said Shaunise. "We're definitely glad that we're able to take part in this and kind of make a difference in the future."
St. David's Medical Center celebrated it's one year anniversary of cord blood collection last week. It announced it has collected more than 1,100 units.
The cord blood collected at St. David's is taken to the Texas Cord Blood Bank in San Antonio.
Here are link's to the TCBB and St. David's Q&A about cord blood: