Friday, May 7, 2010

Cord Blood Banking

The new thing is cord blood banking.  When my brother and Annie were pregnant with Sofia (my niece), my Mother, a pediatrician, considered giving this as a gift to all her grandbabies.  Cord blood can be quite expensive, so this would have been an amazing gift.  My mom, in her typical organized fashion, sat down one Saturday morning with an extensive amount of research and read about all the medical information anyone had ever printed. She decided it wasn't worth it.  That's the medical part of this discussion.  Maybe if Evan has time, he can blog about this some time.  Again, that will be the medical part.  Now, I wanted to blog about the legal battles occurring with Cord Blood Banking.

Currently, a large amount of private Cord Blood Banking corporations are being sued.  Why?  Because parents that invested approximately $2,000 are finding out that their good lump of cash is not going to do a thing for their sick children.  The parents leave feeling deceived, disappointed, and defeated.  On the one hand, this hardly makes a law suit.  Something that a lawyer eventually learns is that sh*t happens.  It sounds cruel, but is true.  However, this is not what the parents are upset about.  They are suing for "false advertisement and consumer fraud."

What really convinced me that this legal battle was being won by the consumer, as opposed to the Cord Blood banking companies, is the outcry that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics have caused.  They have both voiced incredible concern over these companies and their only reason to do this is if they truly feel it isn't worth it for their patients.  After all, economically, you would think they would love the idea of cord blood banking.  Their skepticism is convincing.  They also agree that the marketing techniques are dishonest.  Instead, these organizations recommend donating the cord blood to a public bank.  These public banks make it free to anybody that needs them.

I suppose the legal question then is, to whom is it the responsibility of defragmenting the promises of advertising?  One case I read my first year of law school answers this question.  It was a case that involved a little boy dying in a fire due to a smoke alarm that did not go off.  The smoke alarm manual had in 10 point font in the middle of the brochure that said if placed within a certain distance of a corner, it would not go off.  The parents had not seen this, placed the smoke alarm in a corner, and unfortunately the fire spread too quickly.  In the holding, the court said the smoke alarm company was ultimately responsible, not the parents.  They said corporations hold an amount of responsiblity to let laymen know of unique circumstances, such as cord blood not being nearly as successful as they thought, or a random smoke alarm not functioning in certain places in a home.

The smoke alarm company was required to increase the font size, put it in bold, and place this placement statement on the first page of the brochure. 

The cord blood company needs to be honest in a bigger font size, bold print, and on the first page of each brochure.  But, they wouldn't be able to dupe all these parents then, would they?

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