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Senate Approves ‘Jaden’s Law’ To Promote Bone Marrow Donation Awareness

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 received final legislative approval today in the Senate.

“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.

“Jaden’s parents suffered a terrible loss and our hearts go out to them, however, because of their story, thousands of people will understand the importance of bone marrow and blood stem cell donation,” said Senator Weinberg. “This is extraordinarily important because the more we do to educate the public about the donation process, the more people we will get to join the national registry and the more lives we will save.”

The bill (S-2038) would 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 would 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 would 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.

“This bill would require little effort on the part of the state, but could make a world of difference for someone suffering from Leukemia, or another blood-related disease,” said Senator Ruiz. “It only takes one person to provide a match for a patient in need, and simply learning the process could be enough for someone to become a donor.”

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 registry, minorities face limited prospects of finding a donor with matching bone marrow tissue. African-Americans, for instance, make up only 8 percent of donors in the registry, according to NMDP.

The bill passed the Assembly unanimously in May. The Senate approved it by a vote of 37-0, sending it to the governor’s desk. The law would take effect 90 days after enactment.