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Future Health supports HTA over safe cord blood collection campaign, but claims ‘post code lottery’ could lead paren

Posted Mar 08 2010 10:01pm

Europe’s first accredited private cord blood bank, Future Health Technologies Ltd  (Future Health),  has given its support to the Human Tissue Authority’s campaign, launched today (Tuesday 9 March 2010), to ensure that all UK cord blood collections are both lawful and safe.


Interest in cord blood banking – cryogenically storing the stem cells from the umbilical cord for up to 25 years – has become increasingly popular with parents around the world in the last ten years, in line with increasing evidence of the power of stem cells to heal and repair.  In July 2008 the HTA, which regulates cord blood banks, introduced regulation to ensure that cord blood can only be collected under an HTA licence by suitably trained staff.  It is now writing to 150 organisations who may be involved in cord blood collection to remind them of these regulations.  This apparently follows a number of incidents where parents themselves tried to make the collections or put untrained medical staff under pressure to do so for them.


Nottingham-based Future Health is the UK’s largest cord blood bank and receives more than 300 enquiries a month from parents interested in cord blood collection.  Its UK Director, Roger Dainty, says: “We thoroughly support the HTA’s campaign to highlight the importance of making appropriate arrangements for legal and safe collections.  Our standard guidance for parents is to approach their midwife, consultant or hospital as soon as they can to indicate that they would like their baby’s cord blood collected.  If this cannot be undertaken by hospital staff then we can provide a fully trained and licensed third party to do the collection.


“We are of course concerned that some parents may be leaving their decision too late and therefore putting both themselves and health professionals under unnecessary pressure and stress.  However, we are just as concerned that some parents may be taking desperate measures because they face a postcode lottery as to whether they will be allowed a collection or not at their local hospital. 


“There is no national NHS policy regarding cord blood collections and each hospital is currently able to set its own rules.  Therefore two hospitals only a few miles apart can have completely opposing positions – one allowing collection and the other not.


“We have specific cases of parents making early approaches about cord blood collection to their midwife and then being told very close to their delivery date that the hospital will not in the end allow a collection.  In one instance, a family who had a good clinical reason for wanting to save their second child’s cord blood had to change hospitals within a matter of hours prior to the due date.  In such circumstances we can well understand that parents might feel desperate enough to put pressure on staff or even take matters into their own hands.  Our firm guidance to parents, however, is that this procedure must be undertaken by a trained professional in line with HTA regulations and our phlebotomists are on call 24-7 to ensure that we can support parents even at a late stage.”

About Future Health Technologies Ltd

Future Health Technologies is Europe’s first accredited bank for both cord blood and cord tissue storage.  It was founded in 2002 and offers its services to over 40 different countries including the UK.  The UK’s largest private family cord blood stem cell storage facility, FHT holds a full licence from the UK Human Tissue Authority and has been awarded an ISO 9001:2008 quality management certification for its systems and processes.  It has successfully stored thousands of samples and these are held at its own custom-built cryogenic storage facilities in Nottingham.

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