PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Jack Reed is praising President Barack Obama for signing into law a bill he backed to help patients suffering from diseases requiring bone marrow and cord blood transplants.
The Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Act of 2015 renews funding for the National Marrow Donor Program and the National Cord Blood Inventory.
Reed said the programs have been a lifeline for thousands of patients. Their renewal marks “a critical step forward in expanding access to lifesaving therapies to millions of patients with conditions that can be treated and even cured with bone marrow or cord blood,” the Rhode Island Democrat said in a statement.
Cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and in the attached umbilical cord after childbirth. It can be collected and used in research because it is rich in blood-forming stem cells, which can be used to treat a range of diseases.
In the Senate, Reed co-sponsored the bill with Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, who said the measure reaffirms “the commitment that Congress made three decades ago to help patients with blood cancers and other life-threatening diseases by increasing access to life-saving transplants.”
The bill was sponsored in the House by Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Doris Matsui, D-Calif.
The law reauthorizes funding through the 2020 fiscal year, with $23 million annually for the National Cord Blood Inventory and $30 million each year for the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program.
About 12,600 people depend on programs funded through the law each year to find an unrelated adult marrow donor or cord blood unit for treatment, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Reed said that in his home state, the Rhode Island Blood Center holds bone marrow drives on a weekly basis. Since 1994, Roger Williams Medical Center has been home to Rhode Island’s only Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program.