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J Med Ethics. 2015 Mar;41(3):272-5. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2013-101673. Epub 2014 May 13.

Are hybrid umbilical cord blood banks really the best of both worlds?

Author information

  • 1Section of Hematology/Oncology/Transplant, Alberta Children's Hospital, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
  • 2Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, IWK Health Centre, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
  • 3Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Since the first use of umbilical cord blood (UCB) as a medical therapy, the number of UCB banks worldwide has grown. Public UCB banks offer the option of altruistic donation, whereas private banks allow a product to be stored for the exclusive use of the paying client. With many more UCB products banked privately than publicly in countries such as the USA, hybrid models blending aspects of public and private banking have been proposed. One such bank is in operation in the UK. In this paper we review the hybrid UCB model and conclude that it offers limited benefit to the general public. Furthermore, compared with private banking, this model provides few advantages and potential disadvantages to private clients.

Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to


Donation/Procurement of Organs/Tissues; Ethics; Paediatrics

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