Talking point: Skin and bones

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Stem cells, skin, bones and much more: Thousands of Europeans benefit from human transplants each year. The materials are used in life-saving operations but also for cosmetic surgery. They are mainly procured from deceased persons' bodies and, in accordance with EU guidelines, for free. Now that some 50% of EU states report not having enough of the needed human tissue, some think it's time to consider payments. We asked the view of British MEP Marina Yannakoudakis, steering this issue through Parliament. We were looking at how we can expand the use of cells and get more cells. One of the areas is the umbilical cord blood, which is when children are born, and we're looking at ways of expanding states' ability to have more available. The main debate came in private or public banks. So I was very much of the idea that this is something we need to harvest, we need to encourage and there was no one or the other - both should be used and if they can collaborate together, so much the better. We're talking about whether there will be transparency and an audit trail, if money is given. We're not saying no money, we're saying money should be given to cover the costs, therefore encouraging people to become donors. The last thing we want is to set up a market where men or women are selling gametes or people who don't have money due to the economic crisis sell tissues and cells. It's the wrong way to go forward. But encouraging people, raising awareness... I believe that's the way forward. This report is not about the research, we're talking about donation only. Research - and research in different areas - is very much a Member State issue as there are other issues - ethical and legal. So it has to be left up to the Member State. Research is always a multi-million industry and when someone makes a breakthrough they'll probably make millions. But that's not what this report is about. Research should be encouraged in the EU and in Member States and it's an industry we should embrace but not in this report.

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