Bush Signs Bill for Umbilical Cord Blood Bank

President Bush on Tuesday signed legislation to establish a national databank of umbilical cord blood and bone marrow that would allow doctors to quickly find a match for patients who need a transplant.

The Senate on Dec. 16 passed the bill by voice vote. The House passed the bill in May by a vote of 431-1. The bill was stalled while lawmakers argued over a far-reaching plan that would lift restrictions on stem cell research, which Bush has signaled he would veto.

The bill Bush signed will provide $79 million in federal funding to increase the number of cord blood units available for matches. The objective is 150,000 units, which would mean 90 percent of patients needing them would have a match.

It also reauthorizes the national bone marrow transplant system, combining it and the cord blood in the same database.