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Second Reading of MP’s Bill to Stop the Throwing Away of Life-Saving Blood

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Issued on behalf of the Christian Concern for Our Nation (CCFON)

Press Release

For Immediate Release

24th October 2008

Second Reading of MP’s Bill to Stop the Throwing Away of Life-Saving Blood

On Friday, 24th October, David Burrowes MP will present the Second Reading of a Bill to Parliament encouraging the donation of umbilical cord blood so that it can be stored for public use.

On introducing the Umbilical Cord Blood (Donation) Bill at First Reading on 8th January, Mr Burrowes, whose constituency is adjacent to Barnet general hospital (one of only four NHS hospitals that collect umbilical cord blood) said the purpose of the Bill was to inform parents and the wider public about the value and benefits of umbilical cord blood, and to increase the awareness of the value of umbilical cord blood for the treatment of diseases, and to encourage further research of new treatment methods using cord blood stem cells.

The Bill places a duty on the Secretary of State to:

  • encourage pregnant women to donate their umbilical cord blood after birth,

  • increase awareness of the value of umbilical cord blood for the treatment of diseases and for research of new treatment methods, and

  • promote the collection of cord blood from designated groups where there is a history of disease that may be treatable using cord blood.

The Bill proposes that guidance should be issued to doctors to make sure that pregnant women are made aware of information on the collection and storage of cord blood, and that the Secretary of State publishes targets for the number of cord blood samples donated at National Health Service hospitals in specified calendar years.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, founder and director of Christian Concern For Our Nation said: “The Bill is timely in view of the current debate about so called ‘saviour siblings’, who are created to be tissue typed for their umbilical cord blood and the debate surrounding embryonic stem cell research, which is at the centre of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill. The Bill is currently finishing its Report Stage and Third Reading in the House of Commons on October 22nd. The process of the creation of saviour siblings involves the selection of a ‘designer’ embryo and usually the destruction of the others that do not match the elder sick sibling’s tissue type. Allowing for this in our law, even with restrictions, opens the way for designer babies. Furthermore, throughout the passage of the HFE Bill there has been little discussion regarding the rights of ‘saviour’ children and in particular, how they will feel about having to donate their tissue and the kind of pressure they will feel under as they grow older.”

David Burrowes, who was a member of the Joint Committee originally scrutinising the draft HFE Bill said: “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 added: “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."

CCFON believes the development of such cord blood banks will remove the need for the creation of saviour siblings.

The Umbilical Cord Blood (Donation) 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.

Stories 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.

In a positive development last month, David Burrowes at the launch of a new National Cord Blood Bank met a mother whose child had been saved by stem cells from a baby’s umbilical cord.

Amy Winston-Hart, of Market Harborough, told David how her four-year-old daughter Eva would have died of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 2006, had she not received a transplant from a baby’s umbilical cord in America.

David and Amy were in Nottingham celebrating the launch of The Anthony Nolan Trust Cord Blood Bank, the UK's first combined public cord blood bank and research centre, which was opened by Health Secretary Alan Johnson MP.

The Anthony Nolan Trust plan to have 50,000 cord blood donations in storage by 2013, with 20,000 suitable for life-saving transplantations, and 30,000 for research.


Editor’s Notes:

Professor Colin McGuckin 07971 266 764; Simone Lamont (CCFON) 07815 776 495; Rebecca Smith, Office of David Burrowes MP, 0207 219 5414.

From: Paul Eddy

38 Farm Road, Nottingham NG9 5BZ

T: 07958 905716




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