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Allow Umbilical Cord Blood To Be Used By Family

17 January 2005
News release

Cordbank Urges Government To Allow Umbilical Cord Blood To Be Used By Family Members

New Zealand’s only cord blood bank is urging the Government to allow the babies’ blood kept in its facility to be used by close family members.

At present, New Zealand law only allows umbilical cord blood stored here to be used by the baby from whom it was taken, unless special dispensation is given by the Ministry of Health.

However, Cordbank’s founder and medical director Dr Mary Birdsall is hoping that rule can be relaxed as more and more uses for cord blood are discovered.

“Cord blood is exceptionally rich in stem cells and every week new breakthroughs are being reported in international scientific journals about the medical uses for stem cells.

“Easing the rules here to allow the blood stored in our facility to be used by siblings and other close relatives could be of enormous benefit to Kiwi families.

“It would save them the stress of having to seek case-by-case dispensation and increase access to the blood we have stored in our facility. It would also be more cost-effective for the public health system,” Dr Birdsall said.

New Zealand has no public cord bank and allowing family members access to private cord blood would bring this country into line with many others around the world.

“Because there is no public facility available here, Cordbank offers people the only opportunity to “future proof” their families in this way,” said Dr Birdsall.

“We’d like as many as possible to benefit from this which is why we are asking the Minister of Health to allow cord blood to be used by relatives.”

At present, at least 45 diseases can be treated with cord blood, including leukaemia, aplastic anaemia, and immunodeficiencies. Some use one’s own cord blood and some use other people’s cord blood.

“Stem cell research is undoubtedly one of the most exciting medical advances of recent years. In addition to the numerous life-threatening diseases that can be treated right now, potential uses for cord blood are growing rapidly,” Dr Birdsall said.

In the past year alone, research has indicated stem cells could be used to treat spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimers, motor neurone disease, type one diabetes, stroke victims and brain injuries.

Cord blood collection is endorsed by obstetricians throughout the country. The process is safe for baby and mother, is painless and takes just minutes.

Cordbank is licensed by Medsafe, a division of the Ministry of Health. Parents can contact Cordbank on 0800 CORDBANK (0800 267 322) or via

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