Gilbert Center Celebrates Life with Stem Cell Research and Cord Blood Banking

By: Cecily Markland

The Beehive

Former president of the Gilbert Val Vista Stake, Gale Brimhall says he celebrates “a whole new life” thanks to Celebration Stem Cell Centre (CSCC) of Gilbert.

The high-tech, cutting edge facility is just over a year old, having collected its first “cord blood” in September 2010. Yet, already, it is promising to be one of the world’s leading research centers for cord blood stem cell research, processing and storage, says Rob Schemitsch, director of business development.




At Celebration Stem Cell Centre in Gilbert stem cells--from donated or family-banked umbilical cord blood--are of the highest quality as they are collected, stored, processed and transported using the most stringent federal standards. Photo courtesy Celebration Stem Cell Centre.“Stem cells are the ‘building blocks of life’ that form all other tissues, organs and other human systems in the body,” Rob explains.

Abundant in bone marrow and also available in adipose (fat) tissue, stem cells are also in rich supply in the umbilical cord of a newborn baby.

“The importance of cord blood is that it’s full of naïve stem cells that are ideal for transplant and may help in clinical research and treating of disease,” Rob says. Already, stem cells from cord blood are being used to treat a variety of diseases—everything from cancers to blood disorders—and ongoing clinical trials are suggesting stem cells may have even wider application and treatment in immune system deficiencies, metabolic disorders and more.

President Brimhall participated in a blind study clinical trial after two heart attacks. His second occurred in 1997, a few months after he had been called as Stake President. Even after bypass surgery and having a defibrillator inserted, “I was still pretty limited,” he says. “I wasn’t able to run or do anything. I tired easily.”

Though he won’t know whether he actually received stem cells until the final study results are released in 2012, he says he is fairly confident he received the stem cells.

“The difference is dramatic. I’ve got a new life,” he says, adding, “This has been a great blessing with a lot of miracles involved in it too. We always want to give credit to Heavenly Father, but He works in a variety of ways to help us. Our faith leads to answers. Faith leads other people to you.”

Celebration Stem Cell Centre is committed to educating others about the research and opportunities surrounding stem cells, particularly reaching out to expectant parents and encouraging them to bank or to donate their baby’s cord blood.

CSCC is the state’s first center for public and “family” cord blood banking.

“With family banking, families pay a fee to have their baby’s stem cells processed and stored in our facility.” Those stem cells are a perfect genetic match for that baby and studies show these cells are often a close enough match that they could be used for other family members who may require a stem cell transplant.

As indicated in their ad in this Beehive, CSCC is offering a generous $400 off coupon toward family banking.

“We also want to stress the importance of donating cord blood,” Rob says. “It is free to do so, but, the only opportunity to collect cord blood is at delivery. Parents need to decide ahead of time and indicate their choice to donate the cord blood. If not banked or donated, cord blood is discarded as medical waste by the hospital.”

Rob explains that, for both private banking and public donations, CSCC uses stringent federal standards for collection, storage and transport.

“Donated cord blood stem cells are then stored in our facility and made available to the medical community around the world on a National Donor Registry.”

He adds, “There is a desperate need and we would like to see more donations from various ethnic groups. Currently, African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native Americans patients who need stem cell transplants may have a difficult time finding a match on the national registry,” he says. “Please consider donating your baby’s cord blood. This precious resource may make all the difference for someone with a life-threatening disease or injury.

To learn more about cord blood banking options, visit or call 480-733-9963.