TRENTON – Legislation intended to promote bone marrow and blood stem cell donation awareness was signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Chris Christie.
“Jaden’s Law” was named in honor of 3-year-old Jaden Hilton, a New Jersey boy who lost his battle with Leukemia on Jan. 29, 2007 after he was unable to find a bone marrow match. None of his family members were matches and, because of the low number of minorities in the national registry, he was unable to find a match in the donor pool.
The bill will require the Department of Health and Senior Services to create an online brochure about bone marrow and blood stem cell donations, based on information from the National Marrow Donor Program. The brochure will be posted to the department web site and available for physicians to download to inform patients of the option to become a donor, and to answer common questions about donation.
The legislation will also require the state Health Commissioner, within the limits of available resources, to promote awareness among physicians and the general public about their option to become a bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donor.
A bone marrow transplant is a life-saving treatment for people with leukemia, lymphoma and many other diseases, according to the National Marrow Donor Program. After patients undergo chemotherapy or radiation to destroy their diseased marrow, the donor’s healthy blood-forming cells are given directly into the patient’s bloodstream, where they can begin to function and multiply, according to the NMDP.
For a patient’s body to accept the cells, a donor must be a close match. Seventy percent of people do not have a match in their family, according to the NMDP, and because of the relatively low number of blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians represented in the national donor registry, minorities face limited prospects of finding a donor with matching bone marrow tissue. African-Americans, for instance, make up only seven percent of donors in the registry, according to NMDP.
The bill passed the Assembly unanimously in May and was unanimously approved by the Senate in June. The law will go into effect 90 days after today’s enactment.
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