WASHINGTON, DC, December 19, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Saturday, the House of Representatives voted to pass HR 2520 – the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act – written by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). The non-controversial legislation had earlier passed the House of Representatives in May by a vote of 431-1 and was slightly altered before passage by the Senate Friday night. The bill will now be signed into law by President Bush.
Umbilical cords are a rich, non-controversial source of stem cells. Currently hospitals throw millions of them away each year because the infrastructure required to properly collect and store them is not available. When signed into law by President Bush, the bill will increase the number of cord blood units and cord blood stem cells available for treating patients and research will greatly increase.
“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 Smith.
Smith’s bill provides a total of $265 million for life-saving stem cell therapeutic therapy, cord blood and bone marrow treatment. The legislation authorizes $79 million dollars for the collection of cord blood stem cells with the goal of reaching a total inventory of 150,000 units, making matched stem cells available to treat more than 90 percent of patients, with a particular focus on providing genetic diversity. It also reauthorizes the national bone marrow transplant system at $186 million over the next 5 years and combines both systems – cord blood and bone marrow – under a new program to provide an easy, single access point for information for doctors and patients.
“Cord blood stem cells are already treating patients and now, for the first time ever, my bill will establish a nationwide stem cell transplantation system once it becomes law,” said Smith.
The national program would promote stem cell research by requiring participating cord blood banks to donate units that are not suitable for transplant to researchers who are working on new applications for cord blood stem cells. In addition, for the first time, a nationwide stem cell transplantation system would be established.
Thousands have been successfully treated with cord blood stem cells for more than 67 diseases including Leukemia and Sickle Cell Anemia.
“It occurred to me,” said Smith after the passage of the bill, “while driving to work this afternoon that it is especially fitting, that during these days of holiness and religious significance, that Congress sends to the President a bill designed to effectuate cures from some of the most devastating diseases and cancers on earth.”
Smith added: “Not only has God in His infinite wisdom and goodness created the placenta and umbilical cord to nurture and protect the precious life of an unborn child, but now we know that another gift awaits us immediately after birth, something very special is left behind – cord blood that is rich with stem cells.
“Indeed, one of the best kept secrets in America today is that umbilical cord blood stem cells and adult stem cells are curing people of a myriad of terrible conditions and diseases.”