WSVN -- Mike Sands has dedicated his life to flying, but he was grounded after starting to feel sick.
Mike Sands: "A little tired. Pulse was high, often couldn't catch my breath, but I figured it was just one of those things."
But it was much more serious. Mike was diagnosed with an aggressive form of non-hodgkins lymphoma.
Dr. Lyle Feinstein: "Malignancies of the blood and lymph nodes represent the fourth largest cancer killer in the United States."
Doctors told Mike he needed chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. luckily, his sister was a match.
Dr. Lyle Feinstein: "I know people who had to wait and wait to find somebody who would be a match and sometimes they don't get a match."
Dr. Lyle feinstein from the memorial cancer institute says every year, more than 10,000 cancer patients who need a life-saving transplant cannot find a match.
Dr. Lyle Feinstein: "Those patients need to go to the unrelated donor registry."
That's where little babies can play a big role. Bone marrow is not the only potential cure.
Dr. Lyle Feinstein: "As it turns out, these blood producing cells can not only be found in bone marrow, but in umbilical cord blood."
A new program is encouraging moms to donate their baby's umbilical cord blood at the time of delivery to the national donor registry.
Dr. Lyle Feinstein: "Our goal is to try and collect the units that would otherwise be thrown out for the purpose of potentially saving somebody's life."
And cord blood can be used to treat diseases like leukemia, multiple myeloma or non-hodgkins lymphoma.
Mike Sands: "No lumps, no bumps, nothing."
Since Mike received his transplant he feels like a new person.
Mike Sands: "With a good transplant, you can have a normal life. That's a good thing."
And is back to soaring above the clouds. He says he hopes more new parents will give the gift of life.
Mike Sands: "Donating the cord cells is going to make a difference in somebody's life."
Diana Diaz: "Pregnant women have to be screened before donating cord blood, and of course there is no charge."
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE CORD BLOOD PROGRAM:
Contact Mary RobertsDirector of NursingFamily BirthplaceMemorial Hospital WestTel: (954) 844-7248www.mhs.net/cancerinstitute