28 March 2010
By Brig Velu Nair
“If a newborn has a genetic disorder, the stem cells will also have the same problem. Accurate information should be given about cord blood banking before parents decide to store the cord blood of their newborns.”
COMING down heavily on the practice of private cord blood banking, Brig Velu Nair, head of the Department of Clinical Haematology, Army Hospital (Research and referral) New Delhi and Dean of the Army College of Medical Sciences said there is no scientific justification for the ‘autologous storage of umbilical cord blood.’ Nair was delivering the ‘Dr V S Prayag oration on stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine’ at B J Medical College here on Friday.
Calling for a rethink on private cord blood banking, he said accurate information should be given about cord blood banking before parents decide to store the cord blood of their newborns. Private cord blood banks collect, process and store umbilical cord blood for families’ future medical needs. This is done at a cost of at least Rs 50,000.
Nair questioned the utility of private cord blood banks and said there was a lot of hype about such banks. “There is a bit of blackmail involved here as these banks cash on the parents’ feelings of fear and guilt.
Private storage of cord blood as a biological insurance is un wise. “I get many calls from parents who read about these private cord blood banks that seem to offer a panacea for all ailments. If a newborn has a genetic disorder, the stem cells will also have the same problem.” Thus, there is a question mark over the utility of such cord blood banks, he said.
Nair pointed out that regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy were the modern-day hope not just for treatment but also cure for various ailments.
“However, there is a yawning gap between the supply and demand of donor organs. If five lakh transplants are being performed in the US, then there are one lakh waiting for donor organs,” he said.