WI Cordblood Donation Legislation Signed into Law

December 15, 2005

Governor to Sign Cord Blood Donation Bill
Cord blood an ethical and proven alternative to embryonic stem cells, says Pro-Life Wisconsin

Governor Doyle will sign legislation today that will facilitate the public donation of newborn umbilical cord blood in Wisconsin. He will be joined by former Buffalo Bill and Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly and members of the pro-life community at the Medical College of Wisconsin at 2:00 p.m. Kelly and his wife, Jill, established the Hunter’s Hope Foundation after their infant son, Hunter, was diagnosed with Krabbe Leukodystrophy, an inherited, fatal, nervous system disease.

“We applaud Governor Doyle for signing this life-affirming bill and Jim Kelly for spreading awareness of the healing marvels of cord blood stem cells” said Peggy Hamill, Pro-Life Wisconsin’s state director. “Ethically unproblematic, clinically proven cord blood stem cells are adult-type stem cells that do not require the destruction of human embryos and that have successfully treated many life-threatening diseases. This bill will help increase the available inventory of cord blood units in Wisconsin and the nation. It will save lives, and we thank Representative Wieckert and Senator Leibham for their strong effort in moving the bill through the legislature,” said Hamill.

Medical conditions that can be treated with cord blood include certain types of leukemia, disorders such as Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, spinal cord injury, multiple myeloma, breast cancer, sickle-cell anemia, and Krabbe’s disease. Physicians have been using cord-blood transplants for several years to treat infants born with Krabbe's disease, a genetic disorder in which children are born lacking a critical enzyme that helps form the protective sheath around delicate brain neurons. Without this enzyme, brain cells become damaged as children's motor and mental development atrophies until they die.

“Jim Kelly’s devotion to families of children with Krabbe’s disease is truly inspiring, and life saving,” said Hamill. “Like Jim, Wisconsin’s medical community must promote the healing power of cord blood stem cells. Assembly Bill 270 will help make this happen.”

Assembly Bill 270, authored by Representative Steve Wieckert (R-Appleton) and Senator Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan), requires the principal prenatal health care provider of a pregnant woman to offer her the option to donate (for public use) blood extracted from the umbilical cord of her newborn child to a blood bank. The offer of an option to donate only applies if the donation is at no monetary cost to the woman, her health insurance provider, or to the hospital in which the delivery will occur for collection or storage.