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Deverapalli opens Southern Cord to ‘bank’ cord blood for future treatments

Chakri Deverapalli has opened Southern Cord, a company that offers an affordable method to collect, store and process umbilical cord stem cells. (CONTRIBUTED)
Chakri Deverapalli has opened Southern Cord, a company that offers an affordable method to collect, store and process umbilical cord stem cells. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Chakri Deverapalli of Madison has opened Southern Cord, a ‘bank’ for blood from infants’ umbilical cords.

Although a national company, Southern Cord focuses on helping individuals in the Tennessee Valley and Southeast. The facility is located at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.

Deverapalli’s goal is an affordable method of collecting, storing and processing umbilical cord stem cells. Currently, these cells treat about 80 life-threatening diseases, including leukemia. Research continues research for Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, juvenile diabetes and stroke.

“I grew up in India where medicine is practiced ‘cash’ — if you don’t have cash, you’re sheer out of luck. That bothered me. Blue-collar workers couldn’t afford treatment,” Deverapalli said.

With the cost near $5,000, “we had to work hard … to bring it down to less than $1,500,” Deverapalli said. He delayed opening his center “until we brought the cost down to less than a family’s cell phone bill. With our interest-free financing, it’s possible for families to bank cord blood”.

Cord blood is the blood remaining in a newborn’s umbilical cord after birth. Collecting blood “presents no pain or health risk to mother or child. It’s a valuable, non-controversial source of a child’s own adult stem cells,” he said.

Patients needing a stem cell transplant must rely on bone marrow, circulating blood or cord blood. Cord blood can only be harvested at birth. Bone marrow and circulating blood pose difficulties in donor matches.

Deverapalli, “an engineer with a degree in business,” said banking cord blood is simple and requires three steps:

* Enrollment — By phone or online to receive a collection kit for patient and doctor to collect and ship the blood.

* Collection — The patient notifies the doctor to collect blood immediately after birth.

* Shipment —  By courier with pickup from local hospitals.

At Southern Cord, the lab analyzes and processes the blood. Cells are stored within vapor-phase liquid nitrogen for cryo-preservation, then monitored constantly.

For more information, call 800-614-6183, email to info@southerncord.com or visit southerncord.com, Facebook/Southern Cord or Twitter.

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