Much is written in the press about embryonic stem cell research and the attendant controversy. But less exposure is given to the possibility of employing stem cells from elsewhere. Mr Burrowes’s Bill aims to promote the donation of umbilical cord blood. The Bill calls on the Government to:
encourage pregnant women to donate their umbilical cord blood;
raise awareness of the value of umbilical cord blood in treating disease and research;
promote the collection of cord blood samples from, among others, minority groups and mixed race families (where there may be a history of diseases that may be treatable by the use of cord blood;
issue guidance to doctors and midwives to inform pregnant women about umbilical cord blood and where it can be collected;
inform Parliament annually of the number of cord samples donated, the number of cord blood transplants and their therapeutic use.
Endorsing the Bill on his website, Mr Burrowes said:
“In this country umbilical cord blood is routinely thrown away after birth and its life saving value is wasted. Only 4 hospitals collect cord blood, less than 1,000 cord blood samples are stored at the NHS bank each year, and less than 200 cord blood transplants have taken place in the UK. Many sufferers of leukaemia or blood related disorders are forced to search overseas for an appropriate cord blood match. At a time when the Government is pushing through the Human Fertilisation and Embryo Bill for the UK to be a world leader in regenerative medicine it is a timely opportunity to support stem cell therapy which has a proven record when it comes to treatments. The Bill supports an ethical and convenient alternative to embryonic sources of stem cells. It also supports a greater understanding of cord blood and opportunities for donation to help parents who are waiting desperately for treatment for their children with diseases such as leukaemia.”
The debate was adjourned, and will resume next Friday.