Posted April. 11, 2005 23:33,
Umbilical Cord Blood Leak-
Doctors at H obstetrics and gynecology have arbitrarily extracted umbilical cord blood when women who delivered babies through Cesarean section were under anesthesia in cases where those women did not make it clear on their part what to do with their umbilical cord blood.
Hospitals packaged the extracted cord blood into vinyl packs and sold them for around 150,000 won per pack to A umbilical cord blood bank.
As arbitrary extraction of umbilical cord blood is hard in cases of regular delivery in which women remain conscious, doctors follow the womens decision after asking them about whether to keep their cord blood.
It was revealed that H OB-GYN clinic collected umbilical cord blood from 177 women who gave birth to babies through Cesarean section without consent from July last year to March 10 this year.
The umbilical cord blood sent to umbilical cord blood banks is used for experiments or treatment of child tumors or leukemia.
An official at the clinic confessed, The hospital has been engaged in the umbilical cord blood trade for several years now. The hospital, however, explained, Hospital officials might have mistakenly collected and leaked umbilical cord blood without consent from women. But the hospital has not sold them intentionally.
An official at a large Seoul-based hospital said, As umbilical cord blood for experiments is in a serious shortage, we are using blood sent from private hospitals.
A staff member at an umbilical cord blood company said, It costs a patient around 10 million won to purchase umbilical blood cord to cure diseases like child tumors.
Those women who want to keep their umbilical cord blood pay a cord blood hospital they select about 1.5 million won in storing fees. Normally, they are given the right to use and possess the cord blood within 15 years.
Ethical and Legal Controversy-
The vast majority of women complained after belatedly waking up to the fact that their umbilical cord blood was taken without their knowledge.
Kim (32, female, Gangseo-gu, Seoul) said, Its absurd that hospitals arbitrarily sold umbilical cord blood containing individual genetic information, even through the individuals did not opt to donate their blood to the hospitals.
However, the problem is that there is no legal clause that allows punishment for the arbitrary collection of umbilical cord blood.
Officials at the Ministry of Health and Welfare said, There is no legal and institutional foundation regarding the recycling of umbilical cord blood right now, adding, We acknowledge theres a need for legal rearrangement to make it possible to reflect the opinions of the concerned parties.
Kang Kyoung-sun, professor of veterinary college at Seoul National University, pointed out, If umbilical cord blood distributed through dubious channels is used for treatment, that runs risks of infecting patients with AIDS or hepatitis and causing genetic diseases.