SINGAPORE: Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post on Friday (Dec 8) that many people have reached out to him over the investigation into Cordlife, whose cord blood unit storage tanks had been exposed to temperatures above the acceptable limits of below -150 degrees Celsius.

As the cord blood under the company’s custody had been compromised, “many parents are understandably upset and distressed,” wrote Mr Ong, who then went on to say that investigations into the company would last another six weeks or so.

Read also: Cordlife suspended after MOH found cord blood stored at suboptimal temperatures

The Health Minister explained different aspects of the investigations, which include determining “the extent of temperature excursions for the other six affected tanks and the viability of the stored cord blood units within.” At the same time, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is also working to ascertain the causes of the breaches.

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But Mr Ong said that MOH already released a statement on Nov 30 to publicly disclose what it has already found out. In the weeks to come, MOH will be taking specific steps.

The first is to work with Cordlife to address their shortcomings, which includes close supervision of their cord blood banking activities and inventory management, as well as ensuring that the company implements effective processes to adhere to requirements under the law and prevent similar incidents from occurring again.

The second has to do with parents’ request for MOH to help facilitate the transfer of the cord blood units to another cord blood bank. While MOH has spoken to other cord blood banks, this request may not be for the best.

“We advise that parents hold off these requests for now, until the full impact of the breaches are known in a few weeks. This is because if a unit is assessed to be unaffected, and Cordlife can strengthen its processes, it may be riskier to make a switch given the logistical complexity of making a physical transfer,” he wrote.

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Mr Ong assured the public that the Ministry will ensure that other cord blood banks will “learn from this episode” and that MOH will “follow up with the necessary regulatory and enforcement actions against Cordlife, given the severity of the breaches and the impact on clients. This is to ensure proper accountability, and to underscore the importance of industry players to adhere to the required regulatory standards. We will continue to keep the parents updated.” /TISG