Published: 8th January 2008
The Christian Medical Fellowship has welcomed a new bill encouraging the donation at childbirth of umbilical cord blood and for it to be stored for public use. It has also called on the government to invest more actively in developing the NHS cord stem cell bank.
MP David Burrowes' Umbilical Cord Blood (Donation) Bill was presented to Parliament today. It aims to increase awareness of the value of umbilical cord blood in treating diseases and to promote further research for new treatment methods using cord blood stem cells. The Bill will require doctors to inform all parents of the benefits of collection and storage of cord blood, and seek to promote collection from specific shortage groups, such as minority ones including mixed race families and families where there is a history of cord blood treatable diseases.
Dr Peter Saunders, General Secretary of CMF, said: 'This bill is long overdue, most welcome, and particularly timely in view of the current debate about embryonic stem cell research which is at the centre of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill currently finishing its Committee stage in the House of Lords. Cord blood stem cells have successfully been used to treat dozens of diseases and have the potential to treat more, and David Burrowes is right to urge the government to do much more to support donation, collection, treatment and research. It is regrettable that currently only three NHS hospitals collect cord blood. Cord blood has already cured around 10,000 people, but despite this our own UK cord blood banking facilities are woefully behind the times. We should be making this simple and uncontroversial technology much more readily accessible.'
CMF believes the government was wrong to lead the public into believing that new therapies for degenerative diseases are likely to come from embryonic stem cells, whilst at the same time neglecting to promote ethical and more effective sources of stem cells, such as cord blood.
Dr Saunders said: 'In 2006 the number of live births in England and Wales reached 669,601 compared with 645,835 in 2005. The number of live births has been increasing every year since 2001. If the government had been more active in encouraging the storage of cord blood in the last five years, rather than over-emphasising hopes about embryonic stem cells, we could potentially have had millions of samples of stem cells banked for treatment by now.'
Philippa Taylor (CMF Head of Public Policy) 020 7234 9664
Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668
Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225
Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.
CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.