Since umbilical cord blood banks were first used for stem cell transplants, their number has been increasing permanently worldwide.
There are currently three types of umbilical cord blood banks: public, private and mixed.
In the public banks, samples are at the disposal of any patient who may require them.
In private banks, only the donor or their family may use the blood.
A mixed bank is a private institution in which the umbilical cord blood sample is conserved for possible private or public use. Various models of mixed banks have been proposed, one of which is the “Virgin Health Bank” which is currently operating in the United Kingdom (British Medical Journal 336; 642-644, 2008). In this bank, the blood samples are divided into two, a smaller one for exclusive use of the sample donor, and another one for public use.
A recent article has reviewed the possible advantages of private banks (Journal Medical Ethics 41; 272-275, 2015), considering that since in some countries, especially the United States, there is a higher proportion of private banks, promoting some solution for public use seems an ethically correct attitude. Therefore, the promotion of mixed banks could be a fitting policy.
However, in an extensive study on the subject, our Observatory opted in favour of public banks (…….), which does not mean that individual persons are not within their rights to conserve the umbilical cord blood of their children privately.