Organ transplant surgery doctor medical dr. 370 (R).
(photo credit: Keith Bedford / Reuters)
In a development which may signal the end of a dramatic and emotional legal
battle, the Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday issued an order with
instructions for Biocord, the private umbilical chord blood bank (a storage
facility for possible future use), to begin transferring its donors’ chord blood
to other locations.
The court order specified a number of conditions,
reflecting its concern both for the safety of the blood, and over the erosion of
trust in Biocord after its alleged mishandling of the blood and violation of
The conditions included providing a list of the
number and specific identity of all donor blood to be transferred, as well as
written parental consent in each case. It also demanded an exact description of
the process of the transfer and a declaration from those carrying out the move
that no aspects of it would harm the donor blood.
The transfers are also
to be continually supervised by the Health Ministry.
Both private and
public chord blood banks have developed since the mid-to-late 1990s in response
to the potential for chord blood transplants in treating diseases of the blood
and immune systems.
Chord blood contains special stem cells that can form
red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Because of their special
properties, chord blood cells are currently used to treat blood and immune
system-related genetic diseases, cancers, and blood disorders.
chord blood banks accept donations to be used for anyone in need and the donated
blood is also used for research purposes.
Private chord blood banking is
more controversial as it entails considerable fees and is premised on being
saved for the person who donated it as a newborn.
In November 2012, a new
law was passed regulating the storage and handling of chord blood. Previously,
companies like Biocord had operated on an unregulated basis. Soon after, the
Health Ministry found that Biocord was not functioning in compliance with the
criteria for storing and handling such blood, nor was it economically stable
enough to maintain operations long-term.
At the end of January the Health
Ministry ordered Biocord to stop taking new clients and to inform current
clients that it could not continue operations.
As a result of the public
controversy, Biocord lost its contracts for maintaining the blood in regular
locations and was forced to relocate it to a storage facility in Rishon
In light of the violations noted by the Health Ministry and the
transfer of the blood, the ministry and the parents who stored their children’s
umbilical chord blood in Biocord’s bank have been up in arms and waging a legal
battle for months to prevent damage to the blood.