Cord Blood Banking. Ethical Considerations
Umbilical cord blood (UCB) is a very valuable source of both hematopoietic and pluripotent stem cells. It is a readily available, easily collected source that does not cause inconvenience or harm to the donor. It has been shown to be useful in the treatment of several neoplastic and non-neoplastic serious diseases. UCB transplants have been proven to be life saving in many of these conditions. It results in better survival rates and less GVHD than the traditional treatment with bone marrow transplants. It probably can fill the gap that is caused by the lack of a suitable bone marrow match. There is no ethical or moral objection to its use. UCB donation should be encouraged. UCB can be collected and cryopreserved for at least 15 years in blood banks, which can be public and private. The pros and cons of each type are described. The family, when donating cord blood, has to choose which type it prefers. Detailed and balanced information should be given to the parents by their healthcare providers before they make that decision. Health authorities should support the development of the public banks because by their nature they do not make money and they provide the much needed help for those who cannot afford private banking. Ethical concerns including proper informed consent, linkage of the donor to the donated units, truth in advertising by the private banks and distributive justice are discussed. Also discussed is the question of the appropriateness of selective conception of a baby to be a potential donor.to come
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