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Irish parents urged to sue hospital over refusal to collect cord blood

A leading stem cell biologist has urged Irish parents who are refused the right to collect their babies’ umbilical cord blood for storage as future medical use, to sue the hospitals if their children later develop diseases such as cerebral palsy, stroke, and type 1 diabetes which can be treated with cord blood.

Professor Colin McGuckin says Ireland was being “left way behind the rest of Europe and the world” and that storing cord blood as a potential future source of therapeutic stem cells for the new baby, whilst not a guaranteed cure, could be “hugely beneficial”.

According to Medicare Health and Living Ltd, the only company in Ireland currently registered to provide private cord blood procurement services, three public hospitals prevented parents from harvesting cord blood between last July and March.

The argument for storing cord blood is that a precise tissue match would be perfect for future stem cell treatments of the child from whom the sample is taken.

Irish politician and solicitor Alan Shatter (Fine Gael Deputy) said that the Health Service Executive warned there could be a legal liability if the HSE and public hospitals prevented patients from undergoing the process.

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