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Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are

This year Dairy Queen is celebrating Miracle Treat Day with even more magic. On Thursday, July 30, $1 or more from every Blizzard Treat purchased at participating DQ stores will be donated to UF Health Shands Children's Hospital to help children in need. Together we can provide hope and healing to sick and injured children in our community! Visit a participating location near you!

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July is National Cord Blood Awareness Month

Did you know umbilical cord blood contains stem cells that can save lives?

Cord blood is the blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta after a baby is born. The stem cells found in cord blood replace diseased blood-forming cells with healthy cells. Unlike embryonic stem cells, umbilical cord blood is taken from a healthy baby after its birth. Hospitals like UF Health Shands use donated cord blood to help patients in need of marrow transplants for the treatment of leukemia and other serious and life-threatening diseases.

Dr. John Wingard, program director for the Bone Marrow Transplant Program and associate director of clinical and translational research for the UF Health Shands Cancer Center, first proposed a public cord blood bank in North Florida in 1996. By 1998, UF Health and LifeSouth Community Blood Centers established LifeCord, the first nonprofit public cord blood bank in the Southeast. As one of five cord blood banks in the nation licensed by the Food and Drug Administration, LifeCord collects umbilical cord blood from newborns at hospitals in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

LifeCord has collected more than 19,000 units and banked 3,938 cord blood units since its inception. The UF Health Shands Blood and Marrow Transplant Program has performed more than 1,300 blood and marrow transplants, including the first pe- diatric and adult umbilical cord blood transplants in Florida, as well as Florida’s first umbilical cord blood transplant to treat sickle cell anemia.

To learn more about cord blood donation and transplantation, click here

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How cord blood saved Devon’s life

When Devon Vickers was about to enter middle school, she was diagnosed with leukemia. It was put into remission with oral chemotherapy until her sophomore year of high school when the leukemia returned and her doctors said she needed a marrow transplant. 

As an African American, she faced uphill odds of finding a match. A shared ethnic or racial background increases the chances that the tissue of a donor and recipient will match, but there is a scarcity of minorities who’ve volunteered with the National Marrow Donor Registry. Fortunately, Devon had another option available — cord blood.

Blood collected from a baby’s umbilical cord at birth can be used as an alternative to a marrow transplant. The procedure, which causes no pain for the mother or child, provides healthy, transplantable blood almost immediately. In cases like Devon’s, it offers more flexibility in finding a suitable match. 

Devon knows that an anonymous baby somewhere in the world saved her life.

 “I definitely would love to have the opportunity to thank the mother and child who donated cord blood,” Devon said.  

Click here to watch a video and learn more about how cord blood helped Devon beat leukemia.

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UF Childhood Cancer Researcher Receives $100,000 Grant

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation awarded Young Investigator Grants to 21 childhood cancer researchers for outstanding work and promising ideas in the field of pediatric oncology, including a UF pediatric brain tumor specialist.

Catherine Flores, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of neurosurgery and principal investigator of the stem cell engineering laboratory in the Center for Brain Tumor Therapy and UF Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program, received a two-year grant of $100,000 to fund her work in malignant pediatric brain tumors.

Despite aggressive treatment, pediatric brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children. Flores is working to advance treatment of metastatic tumors with immunotherapeutic approaches. Her team has developed a cellular therapy platform using patient tissue to generate T cells that are specific to each tumor... READ MORE »

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Corey Brewer Youth Basketball Camp 

Are you looking for a fun, healthy activity for your kids this summer? Professional basketball player and former Gator player Corey Brewer is hosting his 6th annual Back2Back Youth Basketball Camp Aug. 3-5 at Buchholz High School. Open to boys and girls aged 9-18, the camp promises three full days of lectures, drill stations, games, contests and more. With proceeds benefiting the Diabetes Institute at the University of Florida, participants support a great cause while learning and playing alongside the NCAA and NBA Champion! To learn more, click here.