FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Sept. 1, 2015) -- Superheroes are born at Womack Army Medical Center, or WAMC, every day. Within 30 seconds of taking their first breath, these babies have potentially saved someone else's life by donating cord blood.

WAMC is celebrating six years of partnership with Carolinas Cord Blood Bank in collecting cord blood on Fort Bragg. WAMC is one of only eight sites in North Carolina and the only Department of Defense site, which collects this lifesaving substance.

Cord blood is harvested from the umbilical cord after the baby is born. Donating cord blood does not change the birth experience for a mom or baby.

"Donating cord blood doesn't hurt mom and it doesn't hurt baby," said Jessica Burgess, marketing manager, Carolinas Cord Blood Bank. "It's going to be thrown away anyway, so why wouldn't you make the choice to donate? It's a win-win."

Dr. Sammy Choi, chief, Department of Clinical Investigation, WAMC, said that Fort Bragg is a natural fit for the program.

"The military is a volunteer organization, so it's in our nature to volunteer to help others in any way we can," Choi said. "We're also a very diverse population and our diversity can help increase the chances for those who would typically have difficulty finding a suitable match."

Cord blood is used in transplants to help save the lives of patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood-borne diseases. Overall, there are about 80 diseases that the Food and Drug Administration has approved for treatment with cord blood. However, studies are being conducted to see if cord blood can potentially treat more conditions including cerebral palsy, autism and strokes.

Since the program's inception at WAMC, 27 units collected here have been used in transplants. In June, a unit donated at WAMC was transplanted to help treat acute myelogenous leukemia.

"The possibilities are endless," Choi said. "There are different schools across the country conducting studies on the benefits of cord blood. Right now, it's primarily used to treat conditions in children, but they are looking at using it more to help adults, too."

Cord blood donation is completely voluntary and provided at no cost to the patient or their insurance. Mothers wishing to donate cord blood will sign a consent form before labor.

"It's a safe, easy process," said NaTasha McDuffie, a clinical research coordinator with Carolinas Cord Blood Bank, who works out of WAMC. "It's non-invasive and we take care of everything."

For more information about cord blood donation, talk to your provider or call 1-910-643-2517.