Public Health Committee Announces Cord Blood Task Force

March 11, 2010

Hartford, CT- The General Assembly’s Public Health Committee co-chairmen, Sen. Jonathan Harris (D-West Hartford) and Rep. Betsy Ritter (D-Waterford); and ranking member, Sen. Dan Debicella (R-Shelton) and Rep. Jan Giegler (R-Danbury) today announced the creation of a bipartisan task force that will study ways for the state to encourage access to public cord blood banking and come up with legislative recommendations by September of 2010.

During the 2009 legislative session the Public Health Committee championed legislation requiring doctors to inform pregnant women about their cord blood banking options. In response to feedback from cord blood experts, co-chairs and ranking member, with the help of Sen. Len Fasano (R-North Haven), hosted an informational forum that brought together national leaders in the field, legislators and concerned citizens. Following the forum, the Public Health Committee went forward with plans to establish the Cord Blood Task Force.

“There is no doubt that more knowledge about and access to cord blood banking will improve the health of Connecticut’s citizens,” Sen. Harris said. “The science is solid and the opportunities are there. This Cord Blood Task Force is going to ensure that the word gets out about the many benefits that cord blood banking can have for us today and well into the future, and that Connecticut positions itself most effectively so that our residents can take advantage of future medical research and treatment.”

“I’m sure that the more people know about cord blood banking the more likely they will be to take advantage of the exciting medical opportunities involved in this science. That’s what our Cord Blood Task Force will do – raise public awareness and improve the health of state residents,” Rep. Ritter said. “Cord blood banking is like a health insurance policy for your family, available in the future in case certain health problems arise.”

“It is important for us to understand how we can utilize medical technology to help save thousands of lives. I am grateful that these experts are willing to share their knowledge with us and look forward to creating comprehensive legislation which will ultimately provide Connecticut residents with an invaluable health resource,” said Sen. Debicella.

“It was clear from those that testified before the Public Health Committee that there is great potential for the future of medicine by using cord blood,” said Rep. Giegler. “This task force will play an instrumental role in helping to determine how we position Connecticut to take advantage of this science to benefit our residents.”

“I want to thank the Public Health co-chairs and ranking members for spearheading this task force,” said Sen. Fasano. “They have responded quickly and effectively to a pressing need in our state for cord blood banking and their efforts will go a long way in expanding access to an important medical development. I am confident this task force, made up of so many highly qualified individuals, will craft solid legislation that will win wide-spread support during the 2011 legislative session.”

Task force membership will include: will include: Sen. Jonathan Harris; Rep. Betty Ritter; Sen. Dan Debicella; Rep. Janice Giegler; Charles J. Lockwood, M.D.,The Anita O’Keeffe Young Professor of Women’s Health and Chair Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences Chief of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Yale Maternal-Fetal Medicine; James F.X. Egan, M.D., Professor and Chairperson, University of Connecticut Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Connecticut; Edward L. Snyder, M.D., Professor and Director, Blood Bank and Pheresis/Transfusion Center, Yale Blood Bank; Michael Boo, J.D.,Chief Strategy Officer, National Marrow Donor Program- Kacey Rose Foundation; Glen Mitchell, President – Kacey Rose Foundation; Kristina Mitchell, Vice President – Kacey Rose Foundation; Krista Harvey, Secretary – Kacey Rose Foundation; Warren Wollschlager, Chief Office of Research and Development – DPH; Dr. Ted Collins, Natasha’s Place; David Lima, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.,Greater New Haven OB/GYN Group; Diane S. Krause, M.D., PhD, Associate Professor and Associate Director, Transfusion Service, Yale Laboratory Medicine; and Theresa Ranciato-Viele.

The task force is expected to begin meeting in April.