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Representatives, Scientists, Cord Blood Transplant Recipients Call On House Legislators to Pass H.R. 596

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Rep. Chris Smith (R- N.J.) -- a leader of health initiatives in Congress -- will be jined by New York Blood Center's (NYBC) President/CEO, Robert L. Jones, M.D., its National Cord Blood Program Director, Pablo Rubinstein, M.D., and cord blood transplant recipients, at a Congressional Briefing on Tuesday, Feb. 8 to urge passage of the Cord Blood Stem Cell Act of 2005 (HR 596). The briefing will take place from noon to 1 p.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building, B369.

According to Rep. Smith, "The Legislation will make available the miracle of stem cells derived from medical waste to thousands of patients who otherwise have no hope to recover from lethal diseases."

The bill was introduced by Rep. Smith and his co-sponsors on Feb. 2, and received strong bi-partisan support in the House (see attached list of current cosponsors). Passage of the bill would create a National Cord Blood Stem Cell Bank Network to build an inventory of 150,000 ready-to-use, top quality cord blood units available to all patients in need of transplants. Such an inventory, reflective of the ethnic diversity of our country, will enable 80 to 90 percent of patients to receive a well- matched unit.

Every year more than 20,000 American children and adults who do not have a matched relative need treatment for a lethal disease that can only be cured with a marrow transplant. Many thousands are unable to be transplanted, in many cases because they cannot find a suitable volunteer donor ready to donate when needed among the several million volunteer donors in marrow registries. They must overcome malignant diseases like leukemia and lymphoma, certain genetic metabolic diseases or genetic diseases of the blood and immune system.

Cord blood stem cells, obtained from the placenta and umbilical cord and donated by the mother, have been successfully used to treat such malignant and genetic diseases. Cord blood is a non-controversial source of stem cells, which -- unlike bone marrow -- can be collected without risk of any kind to donors and stored frozen, in fully usable conditions, for many years. The great advantage of cord blood transplantation is that it does not require as exacting a tissue type match as donated bone marrow does. Thus, patients with uncommon tissue types, as is the case of many ethnic minority individuals, can find appropriate matches. Obviously, however, recipients of better-matched grafts do better and this is the purpose of this bill: a larger cord blood inventory means better matches and better transplant survival.

"Today marks a new beginning in our unending quest to save lives," said Dr. Jones. "The introduction of this bill calls on legislators to recognize that patients in need of a bone marrow transplant do not have to die waiting for a match. There is another option: cord blood."

Recent reports in the New England Journal of Medicine (Nov. 25, 2004 - Vol.351, No. 22) -- one of which focused on the outcomes of National Cord Blood Program stem cell graft recipients -- showed that stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood are an effective transplant option for adult patients with leukemia or myelodysplasia. Cord blood is already a well accepted source of hematopoietic (blood forming) stem cell transplants for children (half of the U.S. children who get a transplant to treat leukemia and certain genetic diseases are now being transplanted with cord blood from unrelated donors).

"We applaud Congressman Smith and all the bill co-sponsors for their unselfish effort to help save lives," said Dr. Rubinstein. "No patient in need should have to go without a transplant. And by passing this bill, legislators will take a giant leap in fulfilling that goal."

According to the GAO Report of October 2002, only a small subset of the patients actively seeking transplants each year actually succeed in finding a donor and the statistics are even worse for ethnic minorities, especially African-Americans. In a cruel example, sickle cell disease, a relatively frequent genetic disease curable by transplantation, mostly affects people of African descent who have lower probability of finding matched bone marrow donors.

Providing physical examples of the life-saving power and potential of cord blood transplants will be cord blood recipients Keone Penn, the first patient to be cured of sickle cell disease with a cord blood transplant from an unrelated donor; Stephen Sprague one of the first adults treated with cord blood for leukemia; and Tracey Dones, mother of cord blood transplant recipient Anthony Dones, who will tell their stories and discuss the patient perspective of transplants.

The bill would authorize $15 million in federal funds during Fiscal Year 2006 and $30 million in FY '07 to subsidize the collection, processing, testing, freezing and storing of cord blood units that would then be made available for transplantation treatments.

The National Cord Blood Program (NCBP) of New York Blood Center is a pioneer in the banking of cord blood for use in clinical transplantation. Since the Program's inception in 1992, it has provided cord blood for 1,700 patients of all ages and ethnic backgrounds in the United States and 27 other countries, and received and processed more than 27,000 cord blood donations.

For more information, the public can visit the National Cord Blood Program's informational website at http://www.nationalcordbloodprogram.org.

Contact: Rich Miller-Murphy of New York Blood Center, 212-570-3101, 917-439-1727; Gladwyn Lopez of Rubenstein Communications, Inc., 212-843-9231

EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: PHOTO(S) AVAILABLE: High resolution, publication-ready photos supporting this story will be available following this event for free editorial use at: http://www.wirepix.com/newsphotos

Bill Summary and Status for the 109th Congress

H.R. 596

Title: To amend the Public Health Service Act to establish a National Cord Blood Stem Cell Bank Network to prepare, store, and distribute human umbilical cord blood stem cells for the treatment of patients and to support peer-reviewed research using such cells.

Sponsor: Rep. Smith, Christopher H (NJ-4) (introduced 2/2/2005) Cosponsors (18)

Latest Major Action: 2/2/05 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce

COSPONSORS (18), ALPHABETICAL

Rep Bartlett, Roscoe G. (MD-6) - 2/2/2005
Rep Burgess, Michael C. (TX-26) - 2/2/2005
Rep Christensen, Donna M. (VI) - 2/2/2005
Rep Cummings, Elijah E. (MD-7) - 2/2/2005
Rep Davis, Artur (AL-7) - 2/2/2005
Rep Davis, Jo Ann (VA-1) - 2/2/2005
Rep Eshoo, Anna G. (CA-14) - 2/2/2005
Rep Kennedy, Mark R. (MN-6) - 2/2/2005
Rep Lewis, Ron (KY-2) - 2/2/2005
Rep Marshall, Jim (GA-3) - 2/2/2005
Rep Millender-McDonald, Juanita (CA-37) - 2/2/2005
Rep Myrick, Sue (NC-9) - 2/2/2005
Rep Norwood, Charlie (GA-9) - 2/2/2005
Rep Rangel, Charles B. (NY-15) - 2/2/2005
Rep Ryun, Jim (KS-2) - 2/2/2005
Rep Towns, Edolphus (NY-10) - 2/2/2005
Rep Wamp, Zach (TN-3) - 2/2/2005
Rep Weldon, Dave (FL-15) - 2/2/2005

http://www.usnewswire.com/


Placental Cord Blood Shown to Save Adult Leukemia Victims in New England Journal of Medicine Study

NEW YORK, Nov. 24 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A new study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, in which scientists from the National Cord Blood Program of the New York Blood Center (NYBC) participated, showed that stem cells derived from the umbilical cord blood (normally discarded with the afterbirth when a baby is born) provide an effective transplant treatment for adult patients with leukemia or myelodysplasia.

Patients who received a cord blood unit with a one or two HLA antigen mismatch did as well as those who were given a bone marrow transplant with one antigen mismatch from an unrelated donor. Patients transplanted with bone marrow that was fully matched did better than the other patients, but there were no fully matched cord blood recipients for comparison. Cord blood is already well accepted as a source of hematopoietic (blood forming) stem cell transplants for children.

New York Blood Center's National Cord Blood Program scientists, Pablo Rubinstein, M.D., and Cladd E. Stevens, M.D., were part of a team led by Mary J. Laughlin, M.D., lead author on the study and hematologist/oncologist at Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and University Hospitals of Cleveland Ireland Cancer Center, and in collaboration with Mary Horowitz, M.D., Scientific Director of the International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry.

"Basically, now no one should have to go without a transplant," said Dr. Rubinstein, Director of the NYBC National Cord Blood Program. Robert L. Jones, M.D., President/CEO of the New York Blood Center said, "The New York Blood Center is committed to providing high quality cord blood units for everyone who needs a transplant. Four years ago we began to expand our Program and now collect cord blood at five hospitals at an annual rate of 5,000 units a year. We plan to double that rate over the next year."

"Each year about two-thirds of the patients who have no suitable relative that can donate bone marrow and need a transplant cannot find one, despite the millions of volunteer donors in marrow donor registries," said Dr. Stevens, Medical Director of the NYBC Program. "Cord blood now gives hope to these people,"

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, the Abraham and Phyllis Katz Foundation, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Children's Leukemia Research Association.

The National Cord Blood Program (NCBP) of New York Blood Center is a pioneer in the banking of cord blood for use in clinical transplantation. Since the Program's inception in 1992, it has provided cord blood for patients of all ages and ethnic backgrounds in the United States and 27 other countries, and received and processed more than 27,000 cord blood donations. The New York Blood Center National Cord Blood Program has received generous support over the past four years from the Starr Foundation. For more information, the public can visit the National Cord Blood Program's informational website at http://www.nationalcordbloodprogram.org (funded with a grant from the F. M. Kirby Foundation).

Celebrating 40 years of service to the NY/NJ community, New York Blood Center provides life-saving transfusion products and services for patients in close to 200 New York and New Jersey hospitals. New York Blood Center is a member of America's Blood Centers, and one of the nation's largest non-profit, community- based blood centers.

Contact: Rich Miller-Murphy of New York Blood Center, 212-570-3101 or 917-439-1727; or Gladwyn Lopez, 212-843-9231 or 917-763-5336

---

EDITORS NOTE:

Study researchers/participating authors Pablo Rubinstein, M.D., Director of NYBC's National Cord Blood Program and Cladd E. Stevens, M.D., Medical Director of NYBC's National Cord Blood Program; and Steven Sprague, an adult cord blood transplant recipient as well as other recipients are available for interview by contacting Gladwyn Lopez at 212-843-9231 or 917-763-5336.

http://www.usnewswire.com/


 

 
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