Umbilical cord blood contains stem cell, which can be used for scientific research and medical treatments, including the treatment of leukemia. Since umbilical is a waste product without a real purpose, the use of umbilical cord stem cells is much less controversial than the use of embryonic stem cells.
The collection of umbilical cord blood is not difficult and is without further risk for the newborn, and can subsequently stored. Around the world there are many companies, known as cord blood banks, which store cord blood. Both private and public cord banks do exist, the former typically store cord blood at behest of the parents for the benefit of the child. Public cord blood banks store it for general use.
We favor that the umbilical cord blood of all newborns to be collected and stored in government-run public cord blood banks. A part of the blood would be reserved for use by the donor, while the remainder is for general use. Participation will be mandatory, though we do not think there will be much opposition to this – save for a small minority.