When little Evelyn was born the other day at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, she did something pretty remarkable for a baby her age. She contributed to research that may someday save lives.

Evelyn Collins was born at the Lewiston hospital on Tuesday. Prior to her birth, her parents Brad and Marie Collins of Wheatfield agreed to allow the doctor to draw blood from her umbilical cord after delivery and share it with researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

The obstetrician, Dr. Judy Wesolowski, began participating in the program in November. Thus far 37 families have allowed her to collect cord blood after delivery.

“It’s a very simple process, with no danger to the baby or the mother,” said Dr. Wesolowski who is chief of maternity. “We only do it if the mom and the baby are stable.”

Cord blood nourishes the baby during pregnancy and is rich in stem cells, Wesolowski said. Roswell Park, one of the nation’s leading cancer research institutes, utilizes blood collected from the umbilical cords of newborns in a variety of research programs. Researchers are finding that when these cells are transplanted into patients, they can help restore the immune and blood systems to fight diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and may help in spinal cord injuries.

The topic has been the subject of national debate, with some concerned about the use of stem cells from fertilized embryos which have been frozen for by parents for possible future children.

Wesolowski said the benefits of using cord blood is that there is “no ethical dilemma.” Also, cord blood is very clean, she added. “It has never been exposed to virus or bacteria.”

“I love it,” she said of her participation in the blood collection program. “It’s very simple ... and it can potentially save lives and make lives healthier.”

Evelyn’s cord blood will be used by cancer researcher Dr. Meir Wetzler at Roswell Park who has been researching the difference between normal blood cells and cancerous blood cells for about 15 years.

Wetzler said that the cord blood of babies not only provides “clean blood,” for research, but has more blood forming cells than adult blood.

“We are very happy with this collaboration,” Wetzler said. “We approached several institutes in the area and really appreciate the cooperation with Saint Mary’s.”

Evelyn’s parents had to agree to the procedure, but for them, it was an easy decision.

Shortly after her birth her father, Brad Collins, looked over his healthy little family in the hospital room. Baby Evelyn slept peacefully in a basinette while her brother Trevor, 2, raced around the hospital room and mom Marie rested with a cool cloth on her forehead.

“We figured yeah, we might as well, if we could help possibly save someone’s life or fight cancer,” he said. “We were glad to help. It was kind of a no brainer for us.”