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Catholic hospitals support adult stem cell research

Promote umbilical cord blood donation

TRENTON - The Catholic HealthCare Partnership of N.J. and the N.J. Catholic Conference (NJCC) along with Assemblyman Neil Cohen (D-20), publicly announced their support May 23 for adult stem cell research and a new initiative to promote umbilical cord and placenta blood donation at all 15 state Catholic hospitals where more than 20,000 babies are born annually. 

"Stem cells derived from umbilical cord and placental blood already save lives and current research initiatives are very promising," said Father Joe Kukura, president of the New Jersey Catholic HealthCare Partnership (CHCP) representing New Jersey's 15 Catholic hospitals. "By promoting umbilical cord and placenta blood donation at New Jersey's Catholic hospitals, we are realizing the riches adult stem cells afford researchers, doctors and, most importantly, patients." The use of adult stem cells derived from placenta and umbilical cord blood is proven to help treat patients with multiple sclerosis, lupus, juvenile diabetes, arthritis and spinal cord injuries as well as many other autoimmune diseases. 

The Catholic HealthCare Partnership will work with its member hospitals, some of which have already been involved in promoting umbilical cord and placenta blood donation, to encourage donations by expectant mothers at the time of childbirth. The program will include educating pregnant women about umbilical cord and placenta blood donation during prenatal health education and providing information about N.J.'s public collection facilities.

Collaborating with the N.J. Public Umbilical Cord and Placental Blood Bank Initiative and the two public umbilical blood banks, CHCP is developing a fact sheet and brochure about cord blood donation to be distributed to all expectant mothers using prenatal services at the hospitals. Staff will also be educated about umbilical cord and placenta blood donation so they can speak with patients about donating opportunities. The NJCC will publicize its support of adult stem cell research and umbilical and placenta blood donation by providing to every Catholic parish in the state an insert for the weekly parish bulletin that is distributed at every Mass.

Assemblyman Neil Cohen (D-20) applauded the Catholic groups for their leadership and said, "I am pleased to applaud the Catholic hospitals for their participation in the cutting-edge world of stem cell research. Today's announcement will bring additional hope to those who suffer from Parkinson's, anemia and blood and liver diseases, pediatric AIDS, juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries."

Umbilical cord and placenta blood donation to New Jersey's two public cord blood banks will provide more options for people with ailments curable through a stem cell transplant and will increase the research material available to New Jersey's top medical researchers. The Elie Katz Umbilical Cord Blood Program in Paramus and Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden are the two facilities that collect, study and research public umbilical cord and placenta blood donations.

"We are thrilled to participate in the promotion of adult stem cell research," said Bill Bolan, executive director of the NJCC, the public policy arm of the state's bishops. "We know that adult stem cells have helped thousands of patients and that new clinical trials are expanded regularly, we are proud to be part of such important medical research."

This initiative will be rolled out in all 15 Catholic hospitals in New Jersey: Columbus Hospital, Newark; Holy Name Hospital, Teaneck; Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County, Willingboro; Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, Camden; St. Clare Hospital, Boonton, Denville, Dover and Sussex campuses; St. Francis Medical Center, Trenton; St. James Hospital, Newark; St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, Paterson; St. Joseph Wayne Hospital, Wayne; St. Mary Hospital, Hoboken; St. Mary Hospital, Passaic; St. Michael Medical Center, Newark; St. Peter University Hospital, New Brunswick, and Trinitas Hospital, Elizabeth.


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