Under an executive order signed Tuesday by acting Gov. Richard J. Codey New Jersey plans to create a umbilical cord blood storage bank to aid stem cell research, a program that state officials said will be the first of its kind in the nation.
An estimated $300,000 each will be given to the Elie Katz Umbilical Cord Blood Program at Community Blood Services in Paramus and the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, said Cynthia Kirchner, senior policy adviser to the state’s public health commissioner.
These two nonprofit community blood banks will accept donations from healthy newborns made with parents’ permission. Under the one-year pilot program, the blood will be used for treatment of illnesses, such as leukemia, or to conduct research.
“A number of children literally owe their lives to the generous donations of those New Jersey moms and dads who chose to donate their children’s cord blood to our public bank,” Dennis Todd, president and chief executive officer for Community Blood Services.
The state health department plans a campaign to educate medical professionals and mothers about the donation program and its benefits.
“Basically, it’s taking something that we would have discarded and process it so research can benefit,” said Ellen Harris, program director for the bank in Camden.