signed by Gov. Blagojevich to raise awareness of umbilical cord
blood donation benefits
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[JUNE 6, 2006]
SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed
legislation Monday to educate people about the benefits, costs and
uses associated with umbilical cord blood collection. Cord blood
stem cells, found in a baby's umbilical cord blood, can be used to
treat a variety of serious illnesses, including leukemias, lymphomas
and immune deficiencies like sickle cell anemia.
House Bill 5245, sponsored by state Rep. Rich Brauer,
R-Springfield, and state Sen, William Haine, D-Alton, requires the
Illinois Department of Public Health to prepare written publications
that provide details about umbilical cord blood donations and to
distribute the material to health and maternal care providers.
"Each year, thousands of
people are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases. And while the
umbilical cord is normally thrown away after a child is born, it
could give hope to someone suffering from leukemia, anemia or
another serious disease," Blagojevich said. "I'm proud to sign a law
that will help more people understand and take advantage of
umbilical cord blood donation."
The legislation will further
efforts to educate residents of Illinois regarding cord blood
donation by requiring the Illinois Department of Public Health to
make it a public health goal to make maximum use of umbilical cord
blood donations. Instead of being treated as medical waste,
umbilical cord blood can be stored after a baby's birth, either for
future use by the child or for a biological family member. The blood
could also be donated to the National Marrow Donor Program to be
screened for a match for a person in need of the stem cells. The
donor program operates a network of public and nonprofit banks and
provides a registry and database search for those in need of cord
"The possibilities of how cord blood donations can help are
endless," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr.
Eric E. Whitaker. "Seriously ill patients whose bodies cannot make
healthy cells of their own can be helped by a donation of healthy
blood cells from a matched donor or cord blood unit. The umbilical
cord contains large numbers of blood-forming cells that can develop
into red blood cells to carry oxygen, white blood cells to fight
infections and platelets, which help stop bleeding."
"Research suggests that stem cells from cord blood may help
persons suffering from leukemia, anemia or other immune
deficiencies," said Brauer, who introduced the legislation in the
Illinois House in January. "This new law is needed to raise
awareness about the benefits of cord blood and to boost umbilical
cord donations in an effort to save lives."
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The Illinois Department of Public Health will
prepare written publications that include information such as
how cord blood is collected, the availability of cord blood in
Illinois, and the costs, benefits and risks of donating cord blood.
These publications will be distributed to health and maternal care
providers and updated every two years.
"With advances in medical
technology, we now know that it is possible that breakthroughs
involving stem cells could cure cancers of all kinds, in addition to
other neurological diseases," said Haine, who sponsored the
legislation in the Senate. "One way to get these stem cells is
through umbilical cord blood. This option is much better than other
options for attaining stem cells for scientific purposes, and this
bill will allow Illinois to go to the forefront of scientific
achievement without wading into the shaky ethical ground that could
come with these advances."
The bill is effective immediately.
Over the course of his administration, Blagojevich has
demonstrated a commitment to stem cell research and cord blood
donation. In July 2003, the governor signed legislation requiring
hospitals to offer the option of umbilical cord blood donation,
making Illinois the first state in the nation to guarantee pregnant
women would have the chance to donate cord blood for medical
treatment or research.
Additionally, the governor has, along with Comptroller Dan Hynes,
created the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute, which
committed $10 million in public funds to stem cell research. In
April, the first 10 grants were handed out to several Illinois
hospitals and research institutions that are studying all
applications of stem cell research, including adult stem cells found
in cord blood.
[News release from the governor's