DURANT, Okla. – Hello again, everybody! Almost two years ago, I wrote, and the Legislature passed, a bill that authorized creation of the Oklahoma Umbilical Cord Blood Bank.
Such a bank would eventually giving every Oklahoma family the ability to donate umbilical cord blood resulting from the live birth of a healthy child – in short, a miracle on top of a miracle. Umbilical cord blood – now most often discarded as medical waste – is rich in adult stem cells, which can be used to treat a variety of illnesses.
Last week, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services conducted a study I requested on the costs and benefits of funding the cord blood bank. While the budget crisis we are currently enduring makes funding the cord blood bank a long shot in 2010, we must continue to push for funding.
The economy will improve, and when it does I believe we must have a plan in place for the cord blood bank so that we can make the relatively modest investment necessary to fund it. Testimony we heard at the study meeting last week indicates approximately $5 million per year would be needed to start and operate the Oklahoma Cord Blood Bank.
What would we get for our money? Among the maladies currently being treated with cord blood therapy are many cancers, leukemia, and several immune disorders – and researchers say that list will grow.
In fact, as we considered the bill, many network morning shows reported the story of a two-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. After an infusion of his own stem cells, he began showing fewer signs of the disorder; his parents had banked his umbilical cord blood. Last month, in Colorado – which has a public cord blood bank – a similar story was reported about a little girl.
By funding the cord blood bank, Oklahoma families would have the same opportunity. Currently, the only option Oklahoma families have to store cord blood is to contract with private umbilical cord blood banks. That cost is several thousands of dollars upfront, and hundreds in annual storage costs, far more than most young families starting out with a new baby can afford.
Funding the cord blood bank would represent an unparalleled investment in life. Few investments we could make have the long-term benefits this one could.
It will be tough to accomplish – starting a new program – even in a good budget year. Still, I believe funding the cord blood bank would show a commitment to life, and leave a legacy of better health in Oklahoma for the current generation and those countless generations yet unborn. Clearly, this is a cause I will continue to support.
If you have any comments, questions or concerns, send me a message through my website at www.gumm.us. You can also follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/jpgumm or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jpgumm.
Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute.” Have a great week, and may God bless you all.