Tuesday, August 10, 2010

House, Senate Put Forth Legislation to Renew Funding, Bolster Nation's Bone Marrow and Umbilical Cord Program

/PRNewswire/ -- The National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP) today applauded the introduction of the "Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Act of 2010." Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Richard Burr (R-NC), Jack Reed (D-RI), John Ensign (R-NV), and Al Franken (D-MN) introduced the act in the U.S. Senate as S. 3751 on Thursday, Aug. 5. Last evening, Reps. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced the companion legislation, (H.R. 6081), in the House. This legislation seeks to reauthorize the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program (National Program) and the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI). These programs must be reauthorized before the NCBI sunsets.

Last year 12,000 patients searched the national registry, publicly known as the Be The Match Registry®, for a marrow donor or umbilical cord blood unit. Congressional support of the National Program and the NCBI is critical to ensure all patients have access to transplant.

"I am pleased with the introduction of this legislation and continued bipartisan support," said Jeffrey W. Chell, M.D., chief executive officer of the NMDP. "The reauthorization will provide us with the opportunity to continue our efforts to increase the number of adult donors and umbilical cord blood units available through the National Program."

Since its inception in the mid-1980s, the NMDP has operated the National Program awarded via a competitive bid process administered by the Health Services Resources Administration (HSRA). Every day, the National Program helps thousands of patients with leukemia, certain lymphomas, and other life-threatening diseases find a matching donor or umbilical cord blood unit. For many of these patients, a transplant may be the best or only hope for a cure. To date, the NMDP has facilitated more than 40,000 transplants. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the ongoing, sustained support of Congress and its efforts to increase unrelated marrow and cord blood transplants in the United States.

The proposed legislation demonstrates the continued federal commitment to these programs and recognizes the importance of providing patients and physicians with a single point of access to marrow and cord blood units that can be used for transplant. It also addresses the importance of building a diverse registry of marrow donors and cord blood units. Additionally, the legislation includes modifications necessary to continue the successful work of these programs.

The NMDP applauds the hard work and dedication of Congress to produce a bipartisan and fiscally responsible bill that will assist the NMDP in advancing its life-saving mission. The NMDP looks forward to working with Congress, and its network partners in the transplant community including, physicians, cord blood banks, donors, patients, and their families, to gain additional support for continued success of cellular transplantation.

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