As reported by the Associated Press, March 15, 2006.

Bill Would Establish Center for Umbilical Cord Blood

HARTFORD, Conn. -- After losing her mother to kidney cancer, Melissa Roder-Goldschmidt wanted to donate her newborn daughter's stem-cell-rich umbilical cord blood to a public bank in hopes that it might help someone else with a similar diagnosis.

She had to go all the way to Florida to find one that would take the donation.

That could change after Connecticut lawmakers consider a bill that would create a statewide bank for umbilical cord blood.

"When I had my two children, this was really not anything that was done or talked about," said Roder-Goldschmidt's boss, state Sen. Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury, who is sponsoring the bill. "Melissa, to her credit, had done a lot of research and knew exactly what she wanted to do, and that was to not waste valuable cord blood and to have it used for the greater good."

Cord blood stem cells have been used to treat leukemia patients whose bone marrow was destroyed by radiation and chemotherapy. They have also been used to treat other cancers and genetic diseases that affect the immune system.

The bill, scheduled for a hearing before the Public Health Committee on Thursday, would set up a bank at the University of Connecticut Health Center, but Hartley said the location is open for debate.

The bill would also require doctors to inform expectant parents that banking their babies' cord blood is an option.

Parents can either donate the blood to a public bank, where it would be available to anyone who needs it, or pay to store it at a private bank, where it will be saved in case the baby or a family member needs it later.

Private blood banking can cost more than $1,000, plus an annual storage fee.

"It's expensive, I think that's the biggest problem with it," said Dr. James Egan, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UConn. "That's why we usually don't tell people one way or the other to have it done or not have it done."

New Jersey in October became the first state to create a statewide public storage bank for cord blood. There are at least 20 other public banks in the nation, along with a number of private banks.