Umbilical stem cells spring second trial
A local blood bank filed its second lawsuit against the Shanghai Public Health Bureau, after the latter banned its business of storing umbilical blood stem cells in January.
Shanghai No 2 Intermediate People's Court held the first hearing Thursday.
"The company conducted blood collecting without any authorization and has broken the Blood Donation Law of the People's Republic of China and the Practices of Blood Centres," said the bureau's Liu Xuefeng.
Shanghai Zaishengyuan Life Co-operation Ltd, the city's first private umbilical blood bank lost the first trial in Shanghai Huangpu District People's Court in July.
But the company disagreed.
"Zaishangyuan isn't under the category of blood centres which are non-profit organizations. We run for a profit business," said Zhang Yu, lawyer for Zaishengyuan.
"The umbilical blood doesn't fall into the criteria of those practices, and what's more, we store stem cells of umbilical blood instead of blood itself."
The representative of Zaishengyuan said the company never collected umbilical blood.
"We separate stem cells from the umbilical blood, collected at the hospital after the baby is delivered, and we stored it. But we don't collect them ourselves," said Zhang.
"The company has signed agreements with more than 20 local hospitals, entrusting them to collect umbilical blood," said Liu.
Liu added that the umbilical blood is within the category of blood defined by the Practices of Blood Centres because it may be used for future clinical purpose.
"We simply store the blood for the baby. And the family of the baby can decide whether they would like to take it for clinical purpose or not," said the representative of Zaishengyuan.
"The blood collecting here involves blood collecting, separating and storing. Once any problem occurs in any of these links, it may bring disaster to the person receiving a transfusion of the blood," said Liu.
The Shanghai Public Health Bureau banned three blood banks who were running umbilical blood businesses on January 16 and then closed all institutions in Shanghai running such business in May.
"No such business is available now in Shanghai," said Zhang Yi from the Shanghai Red Cross Blood Centre.
He refused to tell more details about the current umbilical blood practices in Shanghai.