It is apparently not enough that Richard Branson has invested in – and made a right balls up of – cosmetics, condoms and intercity trains (it’s best we don’t discuss the airline, as I think only a highly accomplished accountant knows what’s going on there) – because now he’s decided to try his hand at ‘storing stem cells from children’s umbilical cords’. Or, as we like to call it in this house, ‘preying on the fears of parents for financial gain’:
‘Sir Richard Branson is to launch his most controversial business venture to date by offering parents the opportunity to store stem cells from their children's umbilical cords.
The company will operate under the Virgin brand and will put blood from the umbilical cord into cold storage.
Some companies already offer the service in the UK but medical experts say there is insufficient evidence to recommend the practice, which is becoming increasingly popular in the United States.
The services typically cost about £1,500 for collection of the blood and about £100 a year for cold storage.’
Lovely, lovely Mr Branson. I suppose we should feel grateful that he manages, momentarily, to wipe the pound signs from his eyes long enough for him to stop just short of describing the anticipated onset of childhood leukaemia as ‘extremely lucrative’:
"If you can actually get the amount of samples stored from 7,000 to 100,000, 200,000, 300,000, then you as the parent may well find that your child has leukaemia in the next few years, and therefore it will be extremely useful."