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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2093 ..



a healthier, more fulfilling and longer life for many cancer sufferers, most notably for children who are diagnosed with leukaemia. Statistics reveal that three out of every ten children with cancer will die, but it is hoped that through the use of transplant material like cord blood this number will be reduced.

Collecting and storing cord blood is currently an expensive process, as Mr Corbell has said. We often look blindly at things, not seeing the outcome of money that we can save by doing intervention at the beginning of a process rather than waiting until things get bad.

Federal government funds for this breakthrough in medical research are welcome, but there are many community organisations out there who have also been doing their part to ensure cord blood is able to be used more frequently and readily. Lions Clubs and the Rotary Club have been quite proactive in this area. In recent years, funds donated by Lions Clubs of Australia to the Childrens Cancer Institute of Australia has totalled in advance of $750,000. As a former Rotarian, I have been informed that the Yass Rotary Club has also taken a keen interest in this issue.

An expectant mother in the town wanted to collect and store her umbilical cord blood. Initially, the Rotary Club was going to help her raise funds to be able to do that from Yass Hospital. Unfortunately, in the end it was going to be too costly to have trained staff on site to collect the blood and then transport it to Sydney, which is a very specialist process indeed.

As a consequence, the lady decided to go to Sydney to give birth to her baby, in order to have her cord blood collected and stored-quite an effort on the part of the mother. As Mr Smyth has already pointed out, the collection and storage process is quite delicate, as contamination and dotting can occur. Therefore, the ACT needs its own facilities to do this. I appreciate that we are part of a network, but I think it is very much at arm's reach and we are not really best utilising what we have right on our doorstep. The ACT, as the major hospital for the south-east region, would be able to accommodate mothers from across the region who wanted to donate their cord blood. I find that a very practical idea.

There is a lot of support for the use of umbilical cord blood in the community. Contribution to the cord blood collection network should be a health priority, but the establishment of a bank-the original suggestion put forward by Mr Smyth-is the one we really need to focus on. Meantime, a lot more awareness of this great breakthrough needs to be promoted. Many in our community will not even have heard of it, and I am heartily pleased that my colleague Mr Smyth has brought this important issue before us today. I commend it to the house.

Question put:

That Mr Corbell's amendment be agreed to.

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