Reproduction and Fertility is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal
Page URL:

Irish parents urged to sue HSE over right to cord blood harvesting

15 June 2009
Appeared in BioNews 512

Ireland is being 'left way behind' in providing future sources of stem cells harvested from the umbilical cord blood of newborns, because of insurance-related policies preventing their collection. Professor Colin McGuckin, president of Novus Sanguis, an international research consortium on cord blood and stem cell research has called on Irish parents to sue the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) when denied the service.

Cord blood is an important source of blood stem cells that can be potentially used for the treatment of serious diseases such as leukemia.

Some parents want these cells harvested and stored at birth, so that their children can guarantee access to potentially beneficial treatments using tissue-matched stem cells. There are no cord blood banks for private or public storage of these cells in Ireland however, so any cells that are harvested must be sent abroad for storage.

Moreover, Irish health professionals are not insured to harvest cord blood cells, following the Clinical Indemnity Scheme's announcement last year that they would not be covered for collection of cord blood for commercial banking, without specific authorisation for the particular hospital, or clearance by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service in the case where consultants identify a child at risk of developing serious disease in later life. Private companies have their own insurance, but this means cord blood can only be harvested in private hospitals. Additionally, there is tension surrounding the harvesting of cord blood for public or private use, since a public resource could provide future treatments for individuals other than the donor.

Professor McGuckin sees the harvesting and storage of cord blood as a vital 'biological insurance' for the future. However the 'experimental' nature of much cord blood-related therapeutic research, as well as a lack of resources so set up a storage facility, has led the Irish Department of Health to decide to keep developments in this area 'under review', with 'no plans to develop a cord blood bank at this time'.

In the UK, both private and public cord blood banks exist. However, some NHS hospitals have banned the harvesting of cord blood on behalf of commercial banks, so if an individual wants to organise a private cord blood collection then they may have to arrange to give birth at a private hospital, depending on where they live.
Commercial cord blood banking controversy in Ireland
phg foundation |  9 June 2009
HSE may face legal action on stem cells
The Times |  7 June 2009
Parents urged to sue hospitals over cord blood
Irish Medical News |  1 June 2009
21 November 2011 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
An advisor to the Irish Government on child protection has expressed his 'profound concern' that failing to legislate in the area of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) may result in children's rights being violated....
12 December 2009 - by Ben Jones 
The Irish Supreme Court has ruled that a 42-year old man should have access to a lesbian couple's son who was conceived using his donated sperm. The highest court in Ireland ruled that the man has 'natural rights' over the son and that while he should not be entitled to guardianship over the boy it is in the child's best interests for the father to be granted contact....
6 May 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine 
In the 21st Century, the collection and use of stem cells from umbilical cord blood (UCB) is anything but a new phenomenon. Since the first successful UCB transplant in 1988, the use of UCB for transplantation purposes has been used in over 6,000 treatments worldwide and has proved to be...
20 October 2006 - by Dr Karen Devine 
Once again, umbilical cord blood (UCB) stem cell collection and storage has been in the headlines of the popular press. UCB can be collected at birth and stored for the future use of the donor, its siblings or donated for public use. There are two main types of banking - public...
15 June 2006 - by Dr Karen Devine 
This week saw the long awaited report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), which stated its latest position on the public and private banking of umbilical cord blood stem cells. Essentially, their stance remains unchanged from the one taken in their previous opinion paper published in 2001...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.