Court to rule on company mishandling blood donations

Tel Aviv court to decide fate of blood bank Biocord for alleged mishandling of donors’ cord blood donations, noncompliance.

blood test 521 (photo credit: BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING, TECHNION)
blood test 521
The Tel Aviv District Court will hold a hearing next week on a lawsuit against the private cord blood bank Biocord regarding its alleged mishandling of donors’ cord blood donations and noncompliance with Health Ministry regulations.
A cord blood bank is a facility that stores umbilical cord blood for future use.
Both private and public cord blood banks have developed since the mid-to-late- 1990s in response to the development of cord blood transplants for treating diseases in the circulatory and immune systems.
Public banks accept donations to be used for anyone in need and the donated blood is also used for research purposes.
Private cord blood banking is more controversial as it entails considerable fees and is premised on being saved for the person who donated it as a baby should that person later get sick.
Cord blood contains a special kind of stem cells that can form red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets.
Because of their special properties, cord blood cells are used to treat blood disorders cancers and genetic diseases related to the immune and circulatory systems.
In November 2012, a law was approved regulating the storage and handling of cord blood. Before it went into force, companies such as Biocord had operated on an unregulated basis.
Soon after, the Health Ministry found that Biocord was not in compliance with the criteria for storing and handling cord blood, nor was it economically stable enough to maintain operations in the long term.
At the end of last month, the ministry ordered Biocord to stop taking new clients and to inform its current clientele that it could not continue operations.
As a result of the public controversy, Biocord lost its contracts for maintaining the cord blood in regular locations and was forced to relocate the cord blood to a storage facility in Rishon Lezion.
In light of the violations noted by the ministry and the transfer of the cord blood, the ministry and the parents who donated their children’s cord blood to Biocord’s bank have been concerned that the cord blood could be damaged.
On Wednesday, the Tel Aviv District Court ordered Biocord to report by next week on the condition of the cord blood it is storing and to hand over a list of all of its donors.
The court also ruled that an immediate solution should be found for safe and permanent storage of the cord blood, even if the solution must be carried out before all of the financial disputes are worked out.
The court ordered these actions in order to secure the cord blood, and so it can make a final decision about what should happen to the cord blood and what steps should be taken generally regarding the embattled company.
To move ahead with a solution regarding storage even before financial issues were ironed out was notable, in that much of the hearing revolved around the fight over the financial condition of the company and what potential buyers were out there for the rights to maintain the cord blood.
Medical critics say the impact of cord blood is still unproven and criticize the private cord blood banks the most for their aggressive marketing.