Maia’s Cord Blood Miracle – Part 1 of 2 | Cord Blood Bank | New Zealand

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A re-infusion of stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood changed the life of 4-year-old Maia Friedlander, who was developmentally delayed from birth. She received a second chance thanks to a groundbreaking procedure pioneered by Dr Joanna Kurtzberg, a leading pediatric oncologist at Duke University in North Carolina, USA.

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Maias parents first heard about cord blood being used to repair brain injury when Mary Schneider, who was the first person to have the treatment for her son Ryan’s cerebral palsy, visited New Zealand in April this year. Three years on, Mary says Ryan is clear of all issues, needs no more therapies, and is completely well, a typical five-year-old boy. The Friedlanders were determined to get Maia into the Duke programme and emailed and phoned almost daily for the next four months. They felt they had nothing to lose and owed it to Maia to see whether this could change her life too. Their persistence paid off.

In late August, Maia and her mum Jillian flew to Duke to have the stem cells her parents stored with CordBank New Zealand put back into her blood stream via an intravenous drip. Once in her system, its a matter of waiting for her cord blood stem cells to find their way to the damaged tissue in her brain and start rebuilding it. Jillian didnt have to wait long. Only two days after Maias re-infusion, her balance seemed to have improved. Her eyes became more focused and alert, she could run with confidence and she even started talking; things she simply hadnt done before.

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Maia’s story raises $65,000 for medical research in NZ

Over $65,000 will be invested in research into regenerative and stem cell medicine in New Zealand — thanks to Maia Friedlander and her family.

The unique fundraiser was sponsored by The Friedlander Foundation. Daniel & Jillian Friedlander are the parents of Auckland girl Maia, who was the first New Zealand to benefit from a reinfusion of her own cord blood — after she suffered a brain injury at birth.

Inspired by the progress Maia has made since her treatment in 2008, the Friedlander family wanted to see more research carried out in this area in New Zealand and partnered with the Auckland Medical Research Foundation to achieve this goal.

“We were very proud to partner with the AMFR by supporting this fundraising effort which will help New Zealand researchers learn more about how to harness the potential of cord blood stem cells in regenerative medicine.

It’s an area very close to our hearts and we give thanks every day that we had the foresight to bank Maia’s cord blood at birth.

Banking Maia’s cord blood at birth with CordBank is the best decision we ever made. Her recovery since her reinfusion has been nothing short of miraculous and essentially it gave us our daughter back — we now have a real, active family — and who could ask for more than that!” said Jillian.

To view Maia’s story, see

100% of the funds will be going to support the work of researchers in New Zealand — and we look forward to hearing about the exciting progress they make with this support.

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