New Rules for Private Umbilical Cord Blood Banks

A Knesset committee has approved new rules for private umbilical cord blood banks in Israel.

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Chana Ya'ar,

Unit of umbilical cord blood from Bedomaich C
Unit of umbilical cord blood from Bedomaich C
Israel news photo: courtesy of Bedomaich Chayi

A Knesset committee has approved new regulations for private umbilical cord blood banks in Israel, thus opening the way for the harvesting and storage of more of the precious resource in the Jewish State.

The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee passed regulations Monday that affect training, implementation and supervision of collection of umbilical cord blood by private concerns.

Israel is also home to a national Public Cord Blood Bank, Bedomaich Chayi. The nonprofit organization (NGO) operates under the JerusaStem Public Cord Blood Bank Foundation in cooperation with several organizations and medical institutions throughout the country. Established in Jerusalem in 2006 by Dor Yeshorim (the Committee for Prevention of Genetic Diseases), the public blood bank and laboratory is funded by organizations and philanthropies from Israel and around the world.

Thousands of units of umbilical cord blood are stored daily at cord blood banks around the world. Stem cells gleaned from cord blood are used in the treatment of some 80 life-threatening diseases, including hereditary diseases, congenital defects and various types of cancer, among other illnesses.

Collection of stem cells from umbilical cord blood is a simple process that does not involve the baby or mother in any way; the cells are withdrawn from the blood which is taken from the umbilical cord after it is separated from the baby after birth.

The regulations that were approved by the Knesset committee on Monday deal with the establishment and operation of private cord blood banks, including the intended use of the collected blood and the processes to be followed in harvesting the resource, and whether the units will be stored domestically or abroad.

Also addressed were issues regarding how information will be shared with the mother from whom the blood is taken, how to obtain informed consent, and what to do in cases when the collected blood is found unsuitable for preservation. The regulations are scheduled to go into effect six months after they are made public.