Connecticut’s 1st Public Cord Blood Bank

June 8, 2011

Sen. Fasano: This is about people helping people stay alive.

Hartford CT, – Senator Len Fasano (R-North Haven) is pleased the full general assembly has now passed a bill establishing the first public umbilical cord blood bank in Connecticut.

“The umbilical cord blood bank will be available to everyone in the state and more importantly will establish a central place for people to have access to a life saving medical alternative,” said Senator Fasano.

Cord blood is the blood that remains in a baby’s umbilical cord after the cord has been cut. Doctors have discovered that cord blood, like bone marrow, is a rich source of unique stem cells that can be used in medical treatments.

These “master stem cells” have been successfully used to treat a growing number of diseases and conditions:

  • leukemia and other cancers
  • sickle cell disease
  • multiple sclerosis

There is also emerging research which indicates that these cells have the potential to effectively treat brain injury, cerebral palsy, heart disease and Type 1 diabetes.

If cord blood is not banked, it is discarded after birth.

Currently doctors are required to inform pregnant women about their cord blood banking options but the process is very expensive. This bill allows families to donate cells free of charge and bank them for their use or anyone else’s.

“This is all about people helping people. This bill gives people the options that will ultimately help their own family, fellow residents of this state or others from around the nation, “said Winston A. Campbell, M.D.

Right now, according to the Cord Blood Registry, Connecticut is one of only 17 states in the country to offer cord blood banking as recommended by the Institutes of Medicine.

“There is a statewide and nationwide crisis with respect to availability and ready access to bone marrow stem cells, particularly among African Americans and other minority patients,” said Dr. Charles Lockwood.

The free public cord blood bank would open doors for so many patients looking for a donor match.

The option gave the Mitchell family of Cheshire hope. Their 2-year old daughter Kacey Rose Mitchell was diagnosed with pediatric cancer and needed a stem cell transplant, but there were no eligible matches in the entire national bone marrow registry. Her doctors instead searched for stem cells stored in public cord blood banks.

Though Kacey Rose Mitchell received a transplant, her pediatric cancer was extremely aggressive and she passed before turning 3 years of age.

Kristina Mitchell said, “We implore all of you to embrace this unique humanitarian opportunity to become ‘part of the solution’ in saving lives in the near future and for generations to come.”

Through an independent board and a combination of public and private donations ($250,000), the cord blood bank will be established. The bank will be run through a partnership between Yale-New Haven Hospital and University of Connecticut Health Center John Dempsey Hospital.

Senator Fasano thanked the Public Health Committee co-chairmen, Rep. Betsy Ritter (D-Waterford/Montville), and Sen. Jason Perillo (R-Shelton) and members of the Cord Blood Task force for making this umbilical cord blood bank a reality.

The bill now awaits governor’s signature.