Proposals on tissue donations, including bone marrow, which would make it easier to find matches across Europe and help save lives were overwhelmingly approved today by the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee.

The proposals drafted by London Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis stress the need to ensure traceability and transparency in the various donation systems across the 27 EU Member States. They also call for increased co-operation between donor systems to help better match tissues to recipients.

Marina Yannakoudakis MEP said: “Bone marrow and stem cell transplants are often the only hope for people with leukemia or other blood diseases. In multi-ethnic areas, such as my constituency of London, patients often need to look for donors abroad. Here is where we can tap into the value-added of the European Union, by sharing donor registries across the EU and saving lives.”

The proposals also look at the ethics of donation. Mrs. Yannakoudakis’ report maintains that the human body should not be a source of financial gain and rejects the practice of paying for tissues and cells, including sperm and eggs. The report does, however, include proposals for the fair and adequate compensation of donors.

The report calls for more information to potential donors, including better information of new and innovative methods of donation such as giving umbilical cord blood. It also looks at ways to address the EU-wide shortage of certain tissues and cells, especially bone marrow, sperm and eggs, by promoting more voluntary donations.

Mrs. Yannakoudakis said:My report looks at ways of raising awareness of donating umbilical cord blood after the birth of a child. Stem cells extracted from cord blood can be used to treat cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

“Too few mothers are donating umbilical cord blood which leads to needless deaths. I hope that my report will increase the sharing of best practice in the European Union so that other Member States can build on the success of cord blood collection schemes in the United Kingdom run by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and the Anthony Nolan Trust.”

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