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Warnings Issued over Unlawful and Risky Cord Blood Collections

Posted Mar 09 2010 12:00am

Warnings have been issued to parents and hospital staff over the unlawful collection of umbilical cord blood

Parents are putting staff under pressure to collect the blood, for donation or storage, or are using kits to take it themselves.

The blood is rich in stem cells and can be donated to treat life threatening diseases such as leukaemia, or it can be stored in case the child needs it for treating a condition of their own at a later date.

Cord blood is also used in so-called saviour sibling cases, where couples have fertility treatment in order to have a child that is a match for an existing sick brother or sister.

The collection can only be carried out by trained staff under a licence but parents are arriving at hospital for the birth of their child with kits, the Human Tissue Authority said.

In one case the parents collected cord blood themselves in the hospital car park.

The HTA is urging parents considering cord blood banking to discuss the practicalities of collection at an early stage of pregnancy.

Where the hospital does not hold a licence it may be possible to get a trained specialist to carry out the collection, they said.

Dr Shaun Griffin, Director of Communications at the HTA said: “Collection of cord blood is the same as any other medical procedure: it needs to be carried out safely by trained staff, because collection is not without risk to the mother and baby.

“We don’t want parents to leave it too late to organise collection because, if things go wrong, it can cause distress and the sample could be wasted. We know of incidents where parents have brought cord blood kits into the delivery room and put pressure on untrained medical professionals to collect cord blood.

“We are also aware of incidents where parents have collected the cord blood themselves, or the collection has taken place outside. In at least one case, cord blood was collected in the hospital car park. This risks the quality of the sample as collecting under these circumstances is likely to lead to contamination."

Last year there were 15,514 cord blood collections compared to 14,335 in 2008.

via www.telegraph.co.uk

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