The National Marrow Donor Program/BeTheMatch announced that it is honoring Congressman Chris Smith with the Lives Award during their annual Council Meeting in Minneapolis on November 9.
NMDP/BeTheMatch manages the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world, serving thousands of people diagnosed every year with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma.
“Representative Smith was nominated and honored with the 2018 Lives Award because of his continued support of the National Marrow Donor Program, and for his efforts in protecting patients’ access to transplant,” said Susan Leppke, Director of Health and Public Policy at the National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match.
Smith is the prime author of two historic stem cell laws—the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-129) and the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-104). These laws
- Created the first National Cord Blood Stem Cell Inventory (NCBI);
- Reauthorized and expanded the National Bone Marrow Registry;
- Connected cord blood banks around the country into one search system for matching donors;
- Directed federal agencies to study adult stem cells and birthing tissues to develop new therapies for patients;
- Significantly increased the inventory of usable umbilical cord blood units available for stem cell transplantation; and
- Authorized $530 million for umbilical cord blood and bone marrow stem cell research and treatment over ten years
Both umbilical cord blood and bone marrow stem cells are today used for medical treatments for more than 70 diseases and conditions such as leukemia and sickle cell disease.
“I am grateful to receive this award—the Lives Award—from a group that has done unparalleled work in facilitating more than 80,000 transplants to date in its administration of the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program. Since my bill first authorized this program, so much progress has been made in increasing patient access to crucial therapies,”Smith stated.
According to the NMDP, there are currently more than 19 million volunteers and more than 249,000 cord blood units on the registry, including 109,000 units collected through the NCBI.
“I am working to ensure that this program receives continued federal support for its work improving patient outcomes and survival rates, meeting the needs of underserved patients and empowering patients and doctors to make optimal treatment decisions,”Smith said.
The national registry of adult donors for bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cells allows for successful matches for patients who need a life-saving stem cell transplant when a matching family donor is not available.
“Today we all should applaud the heroes that comprise the NMDP Be The Match Registry—the generous volunteers who step up to donate their bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells to a neighbor in need, as well as mothers who donate their child’s cord blood—turning medical waste into medical miracles and giving hope to patients who would have otherwise had none,” said Smith.
“In New Jersey, there are nearly 200,000 volunteer potential donors on the registry—an astounding witness to the generosity of Americans,” Smith said.
Smith applauded the amazing work of the late Congressman Bill Young, who worked for decades supporting bone marrow transplantation and who helped start the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry.