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New approach for the umbilical cord donation program 

By Emily Metheny

By changing the name of an umbilical cord donation program and moving it to a different agency, lawmakers hope to get the Postnatal Donation Initiative actually launched.

The General Assembly first passed a cord blood bank law in 2008 but the Family and Social Services Administration - which was to oversee its creation - never really got the program running.

So lawmakers passed a bill in March to move it to the Indiana State Department of Health to try to kick-start the initiative.

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Rep. Dennis Zent, R-Angola, said that's important because cord blood can be essential to curing disease - and donating cord blood doesn't hurt the individual.

"It's not the tissue you need, it's the tissue you discard," Zent said. "So why not?"

By changing ownership, Zent said he hopes the initiative will receive more publicity and "pick up steam."

The bill created a Postnatal Donation Board to help the health department establish the program and it also offers civil immunity to participants in the initiative.

"Everyone that's born has" cord blood, Zent said. Generally, he said, cord blood is incinerated after birth.

"This could be a breakthrough to help," Zent said. "It's a good treatment that will not make a person sick, unlike chemotherapy."

Not only does the blood cord help other individuals, it could help the person that donated it because it is a 100 percent match, Zent said.

Amanda Turney, a spokesperson for the health department, said that after the first meeting of the Cord Blood Board this fall, the department will "know more about the various means of informing the public."

Zent said there will be an initial starting cost, but if the program is run well, it can be self-supported and receive grants.

The health department is expecting "minimal costs" to set up the program but those will be paid for from funds already allocated to the agency, Turney said. Officials said they do not see the initiative becoming self-sustaining "at this time," she said.

Emily Metheny is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.

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