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New Laws Aim To Build State’s Cord Blood Supply Through Public Donations, Education

In a California Healthline Special Report, Assembly member Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena); Burt Lubin, vice president for research at Oakland’s Children’s Hospital and a member of the National Advisory Council on Blood Stem Cell Transplantation; and David Carmel, vice president for business development at Stemcyte, discussed new California laws that seek to expand public donations of umbilical cord blood.

Cord blood — which is harvested from the umbilical cord and placenta after birth — is an alternative to bone marrow transplants and can treat more than 70 diseases.

New Jersey and Texas currently are the only states with public cord blood donation programs (Rebillot, California Healthline, 11/12).

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in October signed into a law a bill (AB 34) by Portantino that will seek public, private or grant funds to collect and store umbilical cord blood in existing facilities for medical research or public use.

The governor also signed SB 962 by Sen. Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) to:

  • Expand cord blood research;
  • Sell samples to private researchers; and
  • Provide information to pregnant women about options for donating cord blood (California Healthline, 10/29).

Lubin said California’s diverse population gives the state a unique opportunity to expand the national cord blood pool and help patients awaiting transplants. However, unless funding for the state program is secured, “it’s not going to happen,” he said (California Healthline, 11/12).

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