A Swiss company present in Italy that collects and stores umbilical cord stem cells, about 10,000 Italian mothers by the end of the year will have deposited their children’s umbilical cord stem cells in foreign banks, double compared to 2007. They said, “Just two years ago about 1,500 families decided to deposit their children’s umbilical cord stem cells in banks. In 2007, requests for this service tripled, reaching 5,000 and in 2008. There will be about 10,000 new cryostorages in order to make stem cells available in the future (illegal in Italy). Managing Director Jean Charles Janni said, “Northern families, mainly in Lombardy and Piedmont, have substantially increased in this practice.” He added, “but numerous requests are also coming from Rome, Emilia Romagna, and Campania.”
The following is a statement from Donatella Poretti, a Radical Democratic Party Senator:
We are still waiting for the current government, like all the previous ones, to decide to eliminate an absurd ban on biobanks in Italy and allow the private conservation of one’s own umbilical cord stem cells, and Italian mothers are doing the best they can, meaning they are sending their children’s umbilical cords abroad.
We have learned that this year exports increased to about 10,000 with authorization requests which must be sent to the National Transplant Center.
The years of laws banning cryoconservation in Italy, politically justified by the necessity to donate, were supposed to end with the approval of a law allowing the conservation of one’s own stem cells, law 47/2008, which should have been applied with a decree in June 2008. Unfortunately the Welfare Minister, thanks to the work of Undersecretary Eugenia Roccella, postponed the implementation of this law and the decree until February 2009. This displays a lack of responsibility to choose and decide, also against businesses and powerful lobbies, with implications for patients, freedom of choice, and the freedom of private enterprise.
We hope that these numbers cause the government to reflect and make them anticipate the deadline to issue the decree, which technically was ready in June, and was revised by the National Blood Center and the National Transplant Center, and only lacked a signature from the minister.