Tuesday, Jul 10, 2012
Senator Johnny Key, Representative Jon Woods Receive First Ever "Invest in Life" Awards from Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas
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LITTLE ROCK - The Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas on Tuesday presented Senator Johnny Key of Mountain Home its first "Invest in Life Award," in recognition of Key's work to create and provide funding for the nation's first program that collects, stores and conducts research with cells from umbilical cord blood.
Representative Jon Woods of Springdale also received the award. He and Key co-sponsored Act 695 of 2007, the Newborn Umbilical Cord Initiative Act, which created the Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas.
At the awards ceremony at the Governor's Mansion here, Ian Goza, a student at Little Rock Central High School, related how blood marrow transfusions helped him survive a type of leukemia. He has participated in Boys State and is a member of his school's mock debate team, while working to become an Eagle Scout. Meanwhile, "he's a typical teenage boy who eats too much and gets in trouble," he joked.
The Cord Blood Bank will make possible provide similar treatment for people with Hodgkin's disease, various types of leukemia and lymphoma, autoimmune deficiencies, sickle cell disease, metabolic disorders and bone marrow failures.
Key reminded the audience that in 2007 a nationwide controversy over stem cell research was becoming more and more acrimonious. However, umbilical blood cord cells are not the same as stem cells, which they come from an embryo. Cord blood cells are harvested from the placentas and umbilical cords of healthy babies.
In spite of the divisive nature of the stem cell issue, both sides of the argument were quick to agree on the benefits of the cord blood bank, Key said.
"This is an example of how much good we can do when we work together," Key said.
Arkansas was the first state in the country to create and fund a cord blood bank, said Dr. Peter Emanuel, executive director of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Key was a member of the House of Representatives when the legislation passed the legislature by a unanimous vote. It passed the House by a vote of 93-to-1 and the Senate by a vote of 34-to-0. Key and Woods gave much of the credit to Dr. Michele Fox, medical director of the Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas.