October 2, 2007
The Honorable Michael Leavitt
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Secretary Leavitt:
On behalf of AABB, I am writing to request the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) prompt action in appointing the Advisory Council on Blood Stem Cell Transplantation. This important new advisory council, required by the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 (Pub. Law 109-129), will play a critical role in advising you on policies relating to the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program and, in turn, will improve care and save the lives of patients requiring stem cell transplants.
As Congress recognized, this council will provide HHS and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) with valuable, expert guidance regarding a broad range of policy issues relating to blood stem cells. Areas in which the committee will make recommendations include the necessary size and composition of the adult donor pool, composition of the National Cord Blood Inventory, research priorities, requirements regarding informed consent, accreditation requirements for cord blood banks, and scientific factors that define “high quality” cord blood units. The department, wisely, is waiting to receive these expert recommendations before fully implementing this valuable healthcare initiative. The Radiation Injury Treatment Network also includes bone marrow donor centers and cord blood banks. Recommendations from the Advisory Council on Blood Stem Cell Transplantation will be extremely important to the preparedness of this Network.
We understand that the department has received the names of many highly qualified nominees. We urge you to appoint and convene the advisory committee so that this important work can be accomplished.
AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks) is a professional association dedicated to advancing transfusion medicine and cellular therapies. Along with our members, including blood and bone marrow collection facilities and cord blood banks, as well as almost 8,000 individuals involved in blood, bone marrow, cord blood and peripheral blood stem cell collection, processing, storage and infusion, AABB looks forward to working with HHS and the advisory committee to advance our common goal of improving the lives of blood stem cell transplant recipients and donors. Please act quickly in convening the advisory committee and implementing the C. W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program.
Karen Shoos Lipton, JD
Chief Executive Officer