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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    House Document No. 15

    Document Title
    Executive Summary of the Joint Subcommittee Studying Medical, Ethical, and Scientific Issues Relating to Stem Cell Research HJR 584 (2007)

    Division of Legislative Services, Joint Subcommittee

    Enabling Authority
    HJR 584 (Regular Session, 2007)

    Executive Summary
    The joint subcommittee held two meetings during the 2007 interim, as authorized by House Joint Resolution 584 (2007). The enabling resolution directed the joint subcommittee to (i) monitor the progress of the Virginia Cord Blood Bank Initiative, including various ways the bank could be utilized, such as treating first responders to a terrorist attack, and (ii) continue to review new and emerging issues in stem cell research and treatment.

    Delegate Robert G. Marshall served as the Chairman of the joint subcommittee.


    The joint subcommittee held its first meeting of the interim on August 27, 2007. This first meeting was devoted to hearing an update on the Cord Blood Bank Initiative delivered by Dr. David Suttle of the Virginia Department of Health.

    Dr. Suttle explained that the Initiative was currently in the process of incorporation as a nonprofit organization. The Attorney General will soon select an attorney to assist with the incorporation process.

    He went on the detail the Initiatives progress thus far in researching options for getting a cord blood bank up and running. He mentioned the representatives from Duke University have been extremely helpful during this process. Currently, Inova Hospital in Fairfax collects cord blood for the New York Cord Blood Bank, which is part of the National Marrow Donor Program. New York contacted Inova about collecting at their hospital, knowing the ethnic diversity there would be very helpful in diversifying their collection. New York sends in specialists to train Inova staff in the collection and initial processing necessary to preserve the cord blood during transport; then it is taken by currier to New York. Because no currier is available on the weekends, cord blood is only collected on Sunday through Thursday. Inova representatives are very interested in working with the Virginia Department of Health to begin collecting for our own cord blood bank; at the very least, they could collect on Fridays and Saturdays for Virginia's bank. Dr. Suttle noted that Friday is the most popular day for scheduled cesarean deliveries.

    He also noted that currently, Virginia does have the capacity to make cord blood collection worthwhile. He stated that the consortium was looking at two separate approaches to getting started. First, they will try to work with existing cord blood banks, such as Duke's, since they already have a working process and storage facility. This is the fastest way to start collecting cord blood; in the meantime, consortium members will be writing grants to get the necessary funding for Virginia to get its own processing and storage facility.

    In trying to gather additional funds for the Initiative, the consortium realized that a change in the enabling legislation would be necessary in order to secure any federal funds. Accordingly, Dr. Suttle asked the subcommittee to consider amending the Code section establishing the Cord Blood Bank Initiative. He explained that in order to receive federal funding, we would have to strike the phrase "for Virginians" from the Code language, and agree to make the cord blood available to any match, worldwide, on a first-come first-served basis. The subcommittee unanimously agreed to support such legislation.

    The joint subcommittee held its second and final meeting of the interim on November 14, 2007.

    During the course of this second and final meeting, the subcommittee received an update on the status of the Cord Blood Bank delivered by Ms. Kim Barnes of the Virginia Department of Health, and then considered potential legislative recommendations for the 2008 session of the General Assembly.

    Describing the status of the Cord Blood Bank, Ms. Barnes stated that, due to the budget situation, over half of the funding initially allocated in the 2008 appropriations act had been cut, leaving the Cord Blood Bank Initiative with approximately $100,000 for the year.

    With regards to efforts to secure not-for-profit status, Ms. Barnes reported that some difficulty had been experienced in identifying a law firm to handle the process due to existing conflicts of interest. However, ultimately the Department identified the law firm of Williams Mullin to carry out the work. The agreement between the Department and the firm has been approved by the Office of the Attorney General. At the time of the meeting, the Department was finalizing the engagement letter, and anticipated that the letter should be complete within approximately two weeks.


    The chairman suggested that the subcommittee write a letter to the Virginia Congressional Delegation to ask for their help in simplifying the burdensome informed consent process. Dr. Suttle had previously explained that the FDA mandated informed consent form was a major factor in low donation rates. Such a letter was sent, after having been circulated among subcommittee members.

    The subcommittee also unanimously decided to support legislation to change to the Cord Blood Bank Initiative's enabling legislation, striking the phrase "for Virginians."

    The Joint Subcommittee Studying Medical, Ethical, and Scientific Issues Relating to Stem Cell Research intends to submit a final report of its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor for publication as a House Document.