"Nothing's impossible." Tucson lab affected by destruction left in wake of Sandy
Reporter: Rikki Mitchell
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Superstorm Sandy caused widespread stress, misery and destruction.
But here's something you probably didn't know: A one of its kind lab in Tucson has a special connection to the crisis.
The Cord Blood Registry in Tucson collects a baby's cord blood immediately after birth. Doctors can use the blood later in that child's life to treat diseases such as leukemia.
Couriers pick up those samples across the country, and send them to a lab in Tucson, the only cord blood lab in the country.
The lab can store the cord blood for years at an annual cost of about $125.
But the shorter the transit time, the better. Jamie Alcaraz with Cord Blood Registry says the lab wants to see the samples within 24 hours.
"Over time, those biological samples, those cells in that cord blood, they will start to break down and they will start to die," says Alcaraz. "So we have a good window of time and we'll process anything regardless of how old it is, but we want it here as soon as possible because more cells are better for those families."
Now if you are the parent of a child born during or just after Superstorm Sandy and you're surrounded by storm debris and flood waters, how do you get your child's cord blood out of the disaster zone and have it arrive in Tucson in just a day's time?
That's when couriers come in.
"Many streets did not have lights, did not have traffic lights, [or] were flooded," says Marie Vigliarolo with Quick International Courier. "We had to find many different diversions. One particular driver had to get out of his vehicle and travel through by foot to get to a particular home because the parents had already left the hospital. So it was dangerous as well as dark as well as delays. There was every obstacle."
Courier Claire Gertz says the storm did not stop anyone from putting those samples on a plane to Tucson.
"Nothing will keep us from doing what we need to do to get the cord blood to the bank," says Gertz. "We still got it done, so my take away is wow, nothing's impossible."