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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2091 ..



daughter called Victoria. In October last year, seven months later, 27-year-old Patricia Durante was in complete remission and credits her daughter with saving her life. She said, "I gave my daughter life, and she gave mine back. It's a miracle. She was meant to be born to save me."

The director of haematology at the McGill University Health Centre watched over the case, and he believes that that offspring-to-parent transplant is the first of its kind in the world. The case highlights the growing interest of doctors in using umbilical cord blood as an effective alternative to bone marrow transplant. That doctor said:

This is the best-case scenario we could possibly have imagined. ... From a doctor's point of view, the chances are she's cured. ... We now live in an era where we are realizing scientifically and medically that we have sources of stem cells that can become other tissues and can be used therapeutically. ... And the most accessible source and the one we're throwing in the garbage all the time are these cord cells.

I commend the motion to the house and ask members to support the merit of this proposal.


(Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (9.42): I thank Mr Smyth for raising this issue tonight. There is no doubt that umbilical cord blood is a rich source of stem cells. Cord blood has the potential to beneficially treat any of a range of degenerative cell conditions, including cancer of various kinds. Mr Smyth has outlined that in his speech.

Research is ongoing, both nationally and internationally, on the use of cord cells and addressing cancer and its effects. Cord blood banking is also-as Mr Smyth rightly acknowledges-a very expensive process. It is for that reason that all jurisdictions and the Commonwealth have agreed to establish a national cord blood collection network.

The previous ACT government agreed, through its then minister, at the Australian Health Ministers Council in May 2001, to establish a national cord blood collection network. Among its objectives are to collect, process and store cord blood units and search, match and distribute cord blood units from recognised Australian and international cord blood banks for transplantation. We already have a network in place nationally to provide for cord blood supplies when they are needed.

Another objective of the network is to store 22,000 Therapeutic Goods Administration compliant cord blood units, including 2,000 indigenous cord blood units, by 2005. The ACT is contributing $164,000 for the four-year period from 2001-02 to 2004-05 as our part of the across-Australia contribution to the establishment of the network.

The agreement that led to the establishment of the network specifies three cord blood banks: one in Sydney, one in Melbourne and one in Brisbane, with a wide network of collection centres throughout Australia. This is where Mr Smyth's arguments were not particularly clear. There is a difference between a collection centre and a bank. The ACT has already acted as a collection centre for cord blood when it has been requested to do so by the national cord blood collection network.

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