The cord blood stem cell banking scam

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Every parent who delivers in an up-market hospital in India today is told by their doctor to go ahead and store their umbilical cord blood stem cells of the baby. They made a lot of promises about how valuable these stem cells are; about how in case the baby has a problem in the future these stem cells can be used to replenish any kind of cell in the body; what makes these stem cells so precious; and why they only have a limited window of opportunity, which is at the time of birth. The marketing spiel is that it’s a very cost-effective investment because it could make a world of a difference to their child’s health in case she ever develops a medical problem in the future.

It’s easy to play on a parents’ guilt. After all, children are high-investment products, people don’t have too many children, and you want to do your best for your baby. Since you’re spending so much on your pregnancy and childbirth, then why not go ahead and spend a little bit more on storing these precious cord stem cells ? It’s sold as an insurance policy – your child will most probably not need it, but in case she does do, it’s great to have that option.

This sounds very good, but the reality is completely different.

Cord stem cell banking has been around for nearly 10 years now. There must be at least 100 cord blood banks all over India, all of which are private players. A quick back of the envelope calculation means that there might at least be 100,000 stored cord blood samples in these private banks, but what I find very disquieting is there are no success stories about how pediatricians have used these cord stem cells to treat babies with a serious medical problem , which they wouldn’t have been able to successfully treat without these stored cells.

You’ve got to worry about the absence of these stories.

FollowDr Aniruddha Malpani

Director and Values Custodian at Solidarity Advisors

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2 Comments on “The cord blood stem cell banking scam”

  1. Navroz Havewala says:

    Yes, this is the story in India.
    However, in the US and Spain, which are the two largest “markets” for stored cord blood stem cells, there is much useful research. The Spanish government is backing pathbreaking research which has already found proven route to fighting AIDS.
    https://m.facebook.com/groups/1433140886961574?view=permalink&id=1645669265708734&refid=18&_ft_=qid.6349830332005983603%3Amf_story_key.1645669265708734%3Atl_objid.1645669265708734#footer_action_list

  2. Simran says:

    I completely disagree with this article, may be things are not that negative. It is only because of advancement in science and medical technology that we’re now able to life such a long healthy life, I’m sure even then there might have been people criticizing the new technology and practices. It will take time but m sure it will help in future. There are many reports of entire organs like Lungs and ears being regenerated using stem cells. I hope people know the importance of this and start investing in their kids. It is a good thing read here (http://www.sciencealert.com/uk-woman-is-first-to-receive-stem-cell-treatment-that-could-cure-blindness )that some kids don’t really ever need it but won’t you do something to save your kids just to make their future secure?? I have opted for cord banking for my kid and I think this is the best gift I have given to my baby. God forbid if there is any need in future, I don’t want to look back and regret just because I was sceptical about taking this decision


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