Health

Thursday 28 August 2014

Umbilical cord blood banking in EU

THERE are two banking options for storing umbilical cord blood: private (family) and public. Cord blood stored in private banks is used for transplants for the infant donor or related family members, but private cord blood banks are not searchable or available to the public.

The situation varies across Europe. Some countries such as Ireland have no private bank.

Irish parents wishing to store cord blood must store it in the UK. The exception to this is directed cases approved by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS). Other countries (such as the UK) have a number of companies offering the service, and parents can opt for either private or public banking or a combination of both.

The European Communities (Quality and Safety of Human Tissues and Cells Regulations 2006) applies to cord blood procurement.

The regulatory authority in each member state is responsible for ensuring that any company authorised to provide the procurement service, adheres to the regulations.

Then, at a local level, a decision may be made by maternity hospitals in each member state as to whether the service is available or not; and which type of service is available.

For example, some hospitals in Ireland do not permit cord blood collection for private storage.

The UK NHS has a cord blood banking programme where parents can register to donate cord blood or, an example of public/private storage in the UK, is with Virgin Health Bank.

France is the only country where you cannot harvest your cord blood. Neither can French parents store in a private bank based in France since no such banks have been accredited so far.

In addition, exportation of their child's cord blood is partially limited through a difficult and extensive export authorisation procedure that must be followed.Italian parents who want to store cord blood privately for their own family can only apply for such medical service at a bank located outside Italy, and under certain conditions.

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