Miriam attacks stem cell waste

The Independent has the full story:

The wife of the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has criticised the financial and bureaucratic barriers that prevent British mothers from donating discarded umbilical cords to a national tissue bank.

Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, who married Mr Clegg in 2000, said she wanted to donate the cord blood cells of her third child, Miguel, to a national tissue bank but was told it was impossible.

Cord blood contains stem cells that can be used in transplant operations to treat a range of disorders relating to the blood and immune system, such as leukaemia and anaemia.

The Government has said that it wants to build up a national cord blood bank so that patients in need of a transplant can be matched to the right tissue donor, but the size of the bank is still too small to be practicable. Ms Gonzalez was told that even if she paid for the collection and transport of her son’s umbilical cord blood to the national cord blood bank it would not be possible for the bank to store it. She understood this to mean it was at capacity.

“It seems to me absurd that we are throwing away all these very valuable materials, not just for transplants but also for research,” she told The Independent. …

Ms Gonzalez urged the Government to provide the additional funding needed to build up the national cord blood bank from discarded umbilical cords, or at least enable mothers to pay for the cost of donating their baby’s blood cells to the public bank: “It seems like a waste of precious resources … and we are far away from what seems like the right target [for the cord blood bank],” Ms Gonzalez said.

Ms Gonzalez gave birth to Miguel in February at a hospital in Kingston, Surrey, where cord blood is not routinely collected from NHS patients. If she had gone private, the service would almost certainly have been offered.

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