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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release July 16, 1998

Giving all Americans access to life-saving therapies is not only a high priority of our Administration, it has been an important personal priority of mine since I served in Congress. That is why I am pleased that President Clinton signed into law today the National Bone Marrow Registry Reauthorization Act of 1998.

For thousands of Americans facing life-threatening illnesses, a bone marrow transplant is their best hope for recovery. By working together, the Administration and Congress have taken an important step to expand the availability of this life-saving treatment. I especially want to acknowledge the leadership of Congressman Bill Young, who has been working on this issue from the very beginning; Senator Bill Frist, who helped write the original transplant law as a physician and who has continued his leadership role in the Senate; Senator Ted Kennedy, with whom I had the privilege to work in writing the law that created the marrow program; and Congresswomen Anna Eshoo and Juanita Millender-McDonald, for their invaluable help. I also want to thank Admiral Bud Zumwalt, who has championed this cause from the start and who has had much to do with the success of the program.

The National Marrow Donor Program is a unique national resource. When this federal program began, many doubted such a registry could attract enough volunteers willing to go into the hospital and donate marrow for a complete stranger. I am pleased to say the doubters were wrong. Today, the National Marrow Donor Program's registry lists an astounding 3.2 million volunteers, and the program has facilitated more than 7,000 transplants. As the author of several laws that helped establish the registry, I am particularly gratified to see this program's record of success.

The bill that President Clinton signed today will ensure the continued success of the nation's marrow program. I am especially pleased that the new law focuses on improving the chances for patients of racial and ethnic minority heritage to find a matched donor. By working together, we can continue to help families in need.