Congress OKs Database of Umbilical Cord Blood

From Associated Press

Congress on Friday agreed to establish a national databank of umbilical cord blood and bone marrow that would allow doctors to quickly find a match for patients who need transplants.

The Senate passed the bill by voice vote. The House passed the bill in May by a vote of 431 to 1.

The bill will provide $79 million in federal funding to increase the number of cord blood units available for matches. The objective is 150,000 units, which would mean 90% of patients needing them would have a match. It also reauthorizes the national bone marrow transplant system, combining it and the cord blood in the same database.


“With the passage of this bill, we will now be able to turn medical waste -- umbilical cords and placentas -- into medical miracles for huge numbers of very sick and terminally ill patients who suffer from such maladies as leukemia and sickle cell anemia,” said Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), who sponsored the bill along with Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.).

“We are pleased that the Senate placed the importance of saving lives over politics with the passage of this legislation,” Davis said. “The use of stem cells from umbilical cords represents a breakthrough of immense promise. This legislation will expand the inventory of cord blood units and will streamline the process for the receipt of blood matches.”

The bill had been stalled while lawmakers argued over a farther-reaching plan that would lift restrictions on stem cell research, which President Bush had signaled he would veto.

Some lawmakers who back both bills had been reluctant to approve the cord blood bill without the embryonic stem cell bill, but decided Friday to let the less controversial bill go through.