In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) reintroduced this bill from the 116th Congress to ensure the continued availability of lifesaving transplants for blood cancer, sickle cell anemia and inherited metabolic or immune system disorders. When she introduced this legislation in the previous session of Congress, Rep. Matsui said:
“For the 1.3 million Americans fighting painful and potentially life-threatening blood cancer or bone marrow disorders, a successful transplant brings hope and a second chance at life. Reauthorizing the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program, the ‘Be [the] Match’ National Registry, and the National Cord Blood Inventory are critical in connecting patients with donors and funding life-saving research to eradicate these devastating diseases. I am proud to introduce the TRANSPLANT Act so we can continue to support patients in need and those willing to give the gift of life.”
After the House passed this bill in the previous session of Congress, Rep. Matsui said:
“For patients and families facing blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, as well as over 70 other otherwise fatal diseases, a bone marrow or cord blood transplant may be the best treatment or only potential for a cure. Congress has long recognized the need to coordinate life-saving transplants between patients and unrelated donors, and we must continue to support the national registry that provides so many with a second chance at life. This year, there is an even greater sense of urgency to continue federal support for these life-saving programs as they navigate the challenges of facilitating transplants during a global pandemic. I applaud my colleagues in the House for approving this bipartisan legislation and I urge the Senate to do the same.”
During the 116th Congress, this bill’s lead Republican cosponsor Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) added:
“This bill is about providing hope to those who are struggling with life-threatening illnesses. This federal program provides critical support in the advancement of research for better treatments and the infrastructure necessary to organize registries which help ensure transplant patients have access to life-saving procedures. Its reauthorization is vital, and I hope our colleagues will join us in expediting passage of this important legislation.”
Last Congress, original cosponsor Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) observed, “Every year, more than 17,000 people are diagnosed with illnesses where bone marrow and cord blood donations can quite literally save their lives.”
The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), which operates the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program, including Be The Match Registry, supports this legislation. NMDP/Be The Match Chief Policy Officer Brian Lindberg says:
“Ensuring access to cellular therapy is critical for the patients we serve. We encourage Congress to reauthorize [the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program and National Cord Blood Inventory] to expand the number of adult volunteer donors and cord blood units on the national registry so that every American who needs a transplant can find a match…. Quick action by this Congress will protect access to life-saving bone marrow and cord blood transplants that can ultimately save lives.”
This legislation has 15 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 11 Democrats and four Republicans, in the 117th Congress. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), has three bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including two Republicans and one Democrat.
In the 116th Congress, this legislation passed the House by a unanimous 414-0 vote with the support of 51 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 39 Democrats and 12 Republicans. It then passed the Senate with an amendment in the nature of a substitute by voice vote. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Reed, had three bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including two Republicans and one Democrat, and didn’t receive a committee vote.
Of Note: The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), established in 1986, connects patients with their donor matches for life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplants. It also works to identify and eliminate financial and other barriers faced by patients, thereby helping to ensure that all patients, regardless of financial status, are able to access life-saving treatments. Finally, the NMDP provides patients and their families with one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant and collects data for each transplant to help improve patient outcomes.
The NMDP’s national registry includes over 20 million potential bone marrow donors and over 254,000 units of umbilical cord blood, including more than 100,000 National Cord Blood Inventory program (NCBI) units.
Since its inception, the NMDP has enjoyed consistently strong bipartisan, bicameral support. Congress has consistently reauthorized the program every five years.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: Be The Match)