Named for 3-year-old Jaden Hilton Who Could Not Find Bone Marrow Match, Lost Battle With Leukemia
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) to promote bone marrow and blood stem cell donation awareness was signed into law today by Governor Christie.
“Jaden’s Law” was named in honor of 3-year-old Jaden Hilton, a New Jersey boy who lost his battle with Leukemia on January 29, 2007 after he was unable to find a bone marrow match. None of his family members were matches and, because of the low number of minorities in the national registry, he was unable to find a match in the donor pool.
“There’s simply no words to express the despair a parent goes through in losing a child at such a young age,” said Senator Weinberg. “However, Jaden’s parents and the bill’s many supporters have used his passing as a way of rallying support for an outreach program which will help match donors to people in need and increase participation in marrow and blood stem cell donations. Through their advocacy, many, many people will hopefully be spared the same heartbreak that Jaden’s family has had to endure.”
The bill (S-2038) will require the Department of Health and Senior Services to create an online brochure about bone marrow and blood stem cell donations, based on information from the National Marrow Donor Program. The brochure will be posted to the department Web site and available for physicians to download to inform patients of the option to become a donor, and to answer common questions about donation.
The legislation will also require the state Health Commissioner, within the limits of available resources, to promote awareness among physicians and the general public about their option to become a bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donor.
“Education is our best tool in encouraging new donors to give the gift of life for someone in need,” said Senator Ruiz. “By creating a public outreach campaign to underscore the importance of marrow and blood stem cell donations, particularly among people who are currently underrepresented in the national marrow donor registry, we can hopefully give many people a second lease on life. I applaud Jaden’s family members and friends, who have turned personal tragedy into public service for people battling blood diseases.”
A bone marrow transplant is a life-saving treatment for people with leukemia, lymphoma and many other diseases, according to the National Marrow Donor Program. After patients undergo chemotherapy or radiation to destroy their diseased marrow, the donor’s healthy blood-forming cells are given directly into the patient’s bloodstream, where they can begin to function and multiply, according to the NMDP.
For a patient’s body to accept the cells, a donor must be a close match. Seventy percent of people do not have a match in their family, according to the NMDP, and because of the relatively low number of blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians represented in the national donor registry, minorities face limited prospects of finding a donor with matching bone marrow tissue. African-Americans, for instance, make up only seven percent of donors in the registry, according to NMDP.
The bill passed the Assembly unanimously in May and was unanimously approved by the Senate in June. The law will go into effect 90 days after today’s enactment.