Christian MP introduces Bill to stop hospitals discarding life-saving blood

 Tomorrow, 8 January, David Burrowes MP will be presenting a Bill to Parliament encouraging the donation of umbilical cord blood and for it to be stored for public use. The purpose of the Bill is to increase the awareness of the value of umbilical cord blood for the treatment of diseases and for further research of new treatment methods using cord blood stem cells. The Bill will require doctors to inform all parents of the benefits of collection and storage of cord blood and to presume consent for collection from families with a history of cord blood treatable diseases. The Bill has attracted cross party support together with the Anthony Nolan Trust, and the UK Leukaemia Society. The UK Thalassaemia Society, which is based in David Burrowes' constituency in Southgate, is also supporting the aims of the Bill. David Burrowes said: "I have only become aware of the value of umbilical cord blood during the debate over stem cell therapy. Despite having had six children, and living adjacent one of only three NHS hospitals which collect cord blood, my wife and I have never been informed of the benefits of donating the umbilical cord blood. Through my Bill I want to stop the waste of life-saving cord blood and open up the opportunities for treatment of diseases and ethical stem cell research." Examples of families who have been unable to obtain a bone marrow match for their children suffering from Leukaemia and have wanted cord blood, has prompted the need for action. Becki Josiah is the mother of one such family from Walthamstow, East London. Her daughter had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Her daughter died in April 2006 without an available bone marrow match. The particular difficulty was that her daughter was of mixed race background. Becki Josiah explained that "mixed race individuals have a much lower chance of receiving a match in bone marrow donations and cord blood donation gives them another vital chance at a cure." The Bill is timely in view of the current debate about embryonic stem cell research' which is at the centre of the Human Fertilisation and Embryo Bill currently finishing its Committee stage in the Lords. David Burrowes, who was a member of the Joint Committee scrutinising the draft Bill commented, "We heard surprisingly little about stem cell therapy other than embryo and inter-species research. Given the ethical, political, and biological constraints of embryonic stem cell therapies we will for the foreseeable future depend on the development of other stem cell therapies like cord blood. When cord blood stem cells have been successfully used to treat 85 diseases and have the potential to treat more, we should do much more to support donation, collection, treatment and research." Colin McGuckin, Professor of Regenerative Medicine, University of Newcastle upon Tyne said: "Cord blood has already cured around 10,000 people, but despite this much of the UK stem cell funding goes towards other types of stem cells including embryonic stem cells, which are not expected to cure people in the next 50 years. Value for public money demands that this is addressed and patients get what they need." There are currently only three NHS hospitals collecting cord blood, which is likely to extend to 6 maternity units with the support of the Anthony Nolan Cord Blood Service. The limited amount of cord blood donation remains a problem, particularly for minority ethnic groups. Becki Josiah makes the point vividly when she said: "I find it obscene that I could go into Selfridges tomorrow and buy a jar of face cream containing placenta but I cannot find anyone willing to collect and store the precious resource that is cord blood." Source: Office of David Burrowes MP for Enfield Southgate and Shadow Minister for Justice

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