Cord blood banking (CBB) is a process whereby blood is collected from the umbilical cord after child birth as it is a rich source of stem cells that could some day be used as treatment if the child suffers with certain diseases.
Leading medical researchers however say CBB has become a money-making scam in India and needs tighter control to protect gullible parents from being exploited.
The business of harvesting and storage of cord blood has surged into big business with 15 private banks offering the service that costs between Rs.50,000 and Rs.100,000, and some banks charge an annual fee.
Unethical marketing tactics and promises by the largely unregulated banks have alarmed stem cell researchers and professional bodies of gynaecologists. Marketing methods including bribing the doctors and nursing staff are used to recruit donors. Also operators in India do not check the viability before releasing the stem cells for transplant and no contaminated samples are discarded.Cryo Stemcell of Bengaluru admitted it had released stem cells for 10 transplants, mostly in donor’s relatives.
Another provider LifeCell admits that in 10 years it released 34 cord blood units of which 5 were for autologus transplants for treating cerebral palsy, the rest were for transplants in patients who were not donors.
The Drug Controller General of India said that as a regulatory body it is concerned only with licensing and not promoting.