Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas Honors Founding Lawmakers

By Nate Hinkel

Fox, Beebe, Woods, Clark(Left to right) Cord Blood Bank Medical Director Michele Fox, M.D., first lady Ginger Beebe, Rep. Jon Woods, and Cord Blood Commission Chairman Tim Clark at Tuesday’s luncheon.

Rep. Jon Woods of Springdale says the CBBA “profoundly” benefits Arkansans” while making the state a leader nationally.

Sen. Johnny Keys and Woods were honored at Tuesday’s luncheon for sponsoring the legislation that enabled the CBBA effort in Arkansas.

July 11, 2012 | Two Arkansas lawmakers shared the vision of Michele Fox, M.D., in 2007 and blazed the path to putting the state among the top in the nation for the innovative use and storage of life-saving cord blood cells.

For their vision and leadership in sponsoring Act 695 of 2007, Senator Johnny Key of Mountain Home and state Representative Jon Woods of Springdale were honored at a July 10 luncheon featuring first lady Ginger Beebe at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion.

“It might have been the two of us and Dr. Fox who initially got the dialogue going and put the wheels in motion, but it’s been people like you all and many others who have made this a successful run,” Woods told the crowd of more than 250 supporters. “We’re extremely proud to be a part of something that profoundly benefits the people of this state and makes Arkansas a leader in this field.”

The legislation allowed Arkansas to begin storing and researching blood cells harvested from umbilical cords following the birth of healthy children. It also included an initiative to set up a statewide cord blood banking network, which aids in collecting and transporting donations and is housed at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

“UAMS has one of the largest adult blood cell transplant centers in the country,” said Beebe, a longtime supporter of the Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas. “Arkansans are now in an elite, active network being looked upon nationally as a state model for promoting the use of umbilical cord blood cells. I am proud to say that. It’s an amazing accomplishment.”

Last year’s opening of the Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas at UAMS ensured that Arkansans statewide have the opportunity to donate cord blood cells for their family’s use, public use or for research purposes. Cord blood cells can be quickly, safely and painlessly collected from umbilical cords following the birth of healthy children. The umbilical cord, placenta and amniotic fluid, all typically discarded after birth, are rich in primitive cells that can be collected without destroying embryos. Umbilical cord blood has already aided in finding treatment for aplastic anemia, leukemia, lymphoma, lupus, thalassemia, sickle cell disease, spinal cord injury and Crohn’s disease, while research is still ongoing to find treatment for corneal degeneration, heart disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

The cord blood bank aims to join the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and linked into its database, allowing UAMS to match donations with potential transplant patients worldwide.

“With further research and the operation of this efficient cord blood banking system, more than 100 million Americans and 2 billion people worldwide could potentially be treated or cured of diseases,” said Fox, a professor of pathology and director of Cell Therapy and Transfusion at UAMS and medical director of the cord blood bank. “Without the foresight to recognize the benefits of this effort and the potential it holds for Arkansans, we never could have come this far. We thank both Senator Keys and Representative Woods for the leadership and vision for choosing to invest in life.”

For more information about cord blood, call (855) 854-2222 or (501) 686-6271 or visit