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Waldby , 2006

Created By: Josh Husen
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(1)Umbilical cord blood has proved an effective substitute for bone marrow in the treatment of blood disorders, and most nations in the developed world have public programmes for the harvesting and storage of cord blood for allogenic transplantation. (2)Private cord blood banks have sprung up alongside public banks, offering parents the opportunity to bank their child’s cord blood for later personal use. Private cord blood banking has been largely condemned by bioethical and medical professional bodies, on the grounds that the likelihood of any particular individual needing a cord blood transplant is very low, and that public, redistributive banking is a more efficient use of resources. This article investigates the appeal of private cord blood banking in the face of such condemnation, and the social norms implied in public and private cord blood banking. It locates cord blood banking in the field of regenerative medicine, and considers the two different models of biological regeneration implied in public, gift-based banking and private, autologous banking. In the first case, regeneration of sick bodies is an effect of social redistribution and intercorporeal generosity between citizens. In the second, regeneration is promised by the retention of cord blood as a form of personal property. The private cord blood account appeals to certain neoliberal norms of entrepreneurial embodiment, acting as a kind of asset or venture capital invested in the future of biotechnological innovation.
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