TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Ellen Karcher and Joseph F. Vitale which would require hospitals and health care professionals to advise pregnant women of the option to donate umbilical cord blood and placental tissue to a public or private blood bank was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 37-0.
“New Jersey has taken a leading role nationally in terms of support for stem cell research,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, the Vice Chair of the Senate Health Committee. “By letting expecting mothers know about the option of donating cord blood and placental tissue, we can take advantage of a far less volatile avenue of pursuing research which will cure the incurable and give hope to those facing permanent disability or terminal disease. This bill will ensure that all pregnant women are informed, and can make an educated decision to help save so many lives through stem cell research.”
“Stem cell research holds the promise of hope for so many New Jerseyans who are currently living in the shadow of despair, caused by permanent injury or terminal illness,” said Senator Vitale. “We are on the cusp of major medical breakthroughs in terms of the use of stem cell rich blood to treat so many diseases and medical conditions, but we need people who are willing to donate to continue that momentum. This bill would ensure that mothers-to-be understand their options, and decide accordingly.”
The bill, S-2736, would ensure that a pregnant woman in New Jersey be advised by her hospital or health care professional of the different options in donating umbilical cord blood or placental tissue, including public blood banks associated with the National Marrow Donor Program and commercial storage programs. In addition, the Department of Health and Senior Services would create a brochure detailing donation options for pregnant women, which would be provided to patients receiving pre-natal care. The bill would not apply to any hospital or health care professional who is directly affiliated with a religion that opposes blood transfer on moral grounds.
“Last year, New Jersey established a cord blood bank to make sure that resources are available to further our understanding of stem cells,” said Senator Karcher. “Since the bank was created, it has become an integral part of our State’s stem cell and biomedical research program, attracting the best and the brightest to conduct research in the Garden State. This bill would guarantee donors for the blood bank, because I believe that many women would choose to contribute to such a worthy cause.”
“Medical research is finding more uses for cord blood every day, and we need to pursue an aggressive education campaign so women know how important their donations are,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health Panel. “This bill would make sure that women in New Jersey know their options, and make the best decision for their families and the future of stem cell research.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration, before going to the Governor to be signed into law.