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In the mid-1980s, Congress made a commitment to patients with blood cancers, like leukemia and lymphoma, and other life-threatening diseases, when it established (authorized) a national bone marrow registry that patients and their doctors could search to find a bone marrow transplant.

Since that time, Congress has consistently reauthorized what is now known as the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program (Program) on a bipartisan basis every five years. In 2021, Congress passed H.R.941/S.288, the TRANSPLANT Act, into law to renew our Program. 

The Program supports patients who are in need of a bone marrow transplant through:

  • The creation of the national bone marrow and umbilical cord blood registry (known as the Be The Match Registry®),
  • The development of a grant program for public cord blood banks, called the National Cord blood Inventory (NCBI). The NCBI helps fund the collection and maintenance of cord blood units used in bone marrow transplants. 
  • The creation of a Research Advisory Council on Blood Stem Cell Transplant and the Stem Cell Therapeutic Outcomes Database, which support research on improving the science of bone marrow and cord blood transplantation. 

History of the Program

In 1979, Laura Graves received the first unrelated bone marrow transplant for leukemia. Her parents wanted other families to have the same hope for a cure, and they set out to create a national marrow donor registry. Doctors, patient families and legislators answered the call.

The program launched with congressional support by Congressman C.W. Bill Young, and funding from the US. Navy in 1987. First housed in the Department of the Navy, the Program found its permanent home as one of the nation’s premier public health programs at Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services.

Since the first Congressional hearing in 1987, the Congress has consistently, in a bipartisan and bicameral manner, supported reauthorization of the Program, expanding in 2005 to include a grant program for cord blood banks.

Today, Be The Match operates the C.W. Bill Young Transplantation Program. We are the global leader in providing cures to patients with life-threatening blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, as well as other diseases. Through our contract with HRSA, we manage the world’s largest registry—the Be The Match Registry—of potential marrow donors and cord blood units. We also connect patients to their donor match for a life-saving marrow or cord blood transplant, educate health care professionals and conduct research so more lives can be saved.

Current statutory authority

In 2015, Congress passed H.R. 2820, the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Act of 2015. This bill reauthorizes the Program and the NCBI for an additional five years. 2020 is a reauthorization year and we are working to pass H.R. 4764, the TRANSPLANT Act. 

The reauthorization of our program relies on continued support from Members of Congress. We thank those who supported HR 2820 and S2282.

Learn more about the current statutory authority: