Meet Lydia (2 years old) and Samson (now 6 weeks old).
Their mom, Becky, a staffer of mine, brought the idea of a bill on umbilical cord donation to my attention last fall while she was pregnant with Samson.
Back when she was pregnant with Lydia, she received solicitations from companies to bank her unborn baby's cord blood. If she had chosen this, she and her husband would have paid a cord blood bank thousands of dollars to store their child’s cord blood cells for a set number of years. Then, if a medical emergency arose in the family, such as a leukemia diagnosis, they would have the cells to use.
As a first-time mom, Becky set out to do a little research about banking. She spoke with stem cell research expert Dr. David Prentice, now of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, and author of this article: LifeNews - Save a Baby’s Life, Save Two Lives with Umbilical Cord Blood. Dr. Prentice shared how public cord blood donation offers an abundance of benefits. He explained if everyone donated, there would likely be a match every time cells are needed from the public bank. You see, cord cells don't need to be an exact match in transplants like adult stem cells must be. Additionally, cord cells offer an ethical alternative to embryonic stem cells and they are used in medical research for a whole host of diseases from diabetes to cancer. Learn more in Dr. Prentice's article here.
After hearing the benefits of donation, Becky talked to her doctor and her hospital before Lydia’s due date about her desire to donate her child’s cord blood. Unfortunately, she faced roadblocks because her hospital didn't participate in cord blood donation (even though participation is completely free for hospitals). She even spoke with the local public donation collection organization, Life Line Stem Cell, in New Haven, Ind., but there was no way to get her child's cord blood from the hospital to the bank. When Lydia came, her cord blood was thrown out.
As Becky and her husband approached their second child's due date, things were different. This time they were set to deliver at a different hospital. They were assured that upon hospital admittance they would be offered the option to donate. And Becky tells me, that's exactly what happened. The donation process was simple and completely free and harmless.
Now Samson's cord blood has been donated to a public bank where it could be used for a transplant, to save a patient with cancer, or in medical research to find cures.
My cord blood bill, Senate Bill 315, doesn't make cord blood donation mandatory by hospitals or mothers. Rather it raises awareness of this life-saving process by providing expectant mothers with information on cord donation. My bill passed two committees and the Senate and House chambers with all unanimous votes. It now awaits the Governor’s signature.
Cord blood donation recognizes that every life is a gift.