by Steven Ertelt
October 6, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A leading pro-life congressman and former Philadelphia 76ers basketball star Julius "Dr. J" Erving teamed up at a press conference Thursday to ask the Senate to pass a House-approved bill that would promote adult stem cell research using umbilical cord blood.
The bill provides funding to use stem cells from umbilical cord blood, which have proven to be the most effective and the House approved HR 2520 434-1 in May.
The Senate has stalled on voting for the bill because it has gotten caught up in the divisive debate over using taxpayer funds for embryonic stem cell research. Smith asked that the Senate not delay any further on voting on the bill.
"Delay is denial, especially for the sick who will not benefit from cord blood transplantation because the Senate inexplicably delayed," Smith said. "Make no mistake, for these sick children and adults, this is a matter of life or death."
Dr. J, who is currently the Vice President of the Orlando Magic, said African American patients need the bill to be approved because they have a much lower chance to obtain a match within the current bone marrow and umbilical cord blood stem cell inventories.
"Each year, thousands of Americans die who could be saved if larger and more diverse inventories of umbilical cord stem cells were in existence," Erving noted. "I came today to join Congressman Smith in asking the Senate to finish the job and pass this legislation and provide doctors the resources they need to treat the thousands of courageous patients in desperate need of help."
Currently, some minorities have less than a 50% chance of obtaining a potentially life saving transplant
Umbilical cords are a rich, non-controversial source of stem cells. Currently hospitals throw millions of them away each year because the infrastructure required to properly collect and store them is not available.
Thousands havebeen successfully treated with cord blood stem cells for more than 67 diseases including Leukemia and Sickle Cell Anemia.
The infusion of federal funds will make this medical miracle available to thousands more and will ensure that research continues so that this source of stem cells can treat many other debilitating diseases.
Numerous doctors and patients who have been treated with umbilical cord stem cells also attended the press conference.