Cord Blood – Science & Medicine

What is cord blood and why is it valuable?

Cord blood is the blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta after birth, and contains rare stem cells that have many potential medical applications.  Click here to learn more about cord blood and how it can help to protect the future health of your family.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are ‘master’ cells from which all other cells, tissues, and organs in the body are derived. Although present in large quantities in the developing fetus, stem cells begin to diminish soon after birth. There are almost no circulating stem cells in adult blood. Cord blood is the only non-invasive method of collecting early stage fetal and embryonic stem cells from an individual.

Why are stem cells medically important?

Scientists have harnessed the ability of stem cells to turn into any other cell type in the body to replace damaged or missing cells, an approach that is collectively referred to as “cell therapy”. To date, over 50 life-threatening diseases, including cancers and genetic disorders have been treated with stem cells, with many additional diseases being researched.  Click here to learn more about stem cell applications and how they can help your child in the future.

What types of diseases can be treated with stem cells are use stem cells as part of the treatment?

Stem cells are early stage cells which have the capability of differentiating into many different cell types. Stem cells have been used in the treatment of numerous diseases, including cancers and genetic disorders.

How does cord blood stem cells compare to other sources of stem cells?

Cord blood stem cells from your baby will be a perfect match to him/her when it is needed. Harvesting of cord blood is safer and more efficient than harvesting bone marrow from a donor. Once banked, it will become readily available whenever needed, with little or no chance of rejection. Furthermore, cord blood stem cells are not only a perfect match to your baby, but it has an increased probability of a match for the baby’s siblings and can potentially be used for the baby’s parents or grandparents.

What role will stem cells play in the future of medicine?

At the moment, stem cells are used in the treatment of over 50 cancers, immune disorders, and genetic disorders. As technology progresses, it is likely that the field of stem cells therapy will become more advanced, and the future uses of stem cells can be limitless. Research in stem cell therapy include usage for treatment of heart diseases, spinal cord damage, stroke, diabetes, and muscular dystrophy.

What is Graft versus Host Disease and how does cord blood banking prevent this?

Graft versus Host Disease is a disease which can occur after a bone marrow transplant. By banking a child’s cord blood, this disease is prevented because the cord blood is a perfect match to your child and is not donated from a different individual. This will increase the survival rate of the recipient and ensure a greater chance that the transplant will be successful.

Why choose to store your child’s cord blood stem cells?

Your child’s cord blood stem cells are only present during birth. By choosing to save your child’s cord blood stem cells, you will have the peace of mind that these precious cells are preserved and readily available in the event that your child or another family member needs them in the future. If the cord blood stem cells are not banked, these precious cells will be discarded after birth. By banking your child’s cord blood, you will be able to take advantege of the medical treatments that are currently available using stem cells as well as emerging stem cells treatments that will become available in the future.

At what time is the cord blood collected?

Cord blood is collected by your physician from the umbilical cord and placenta immediately after the birth of your child.

How is the cord blood collected?

After your child is born, the physician will cut the umbilical cord. Your physician will collect the cord blood from the umbilical cord and placenta using special blood bags. The blood bags and all necessary supplies for proper cord blood collection is provided in Healthcord’s Cord Blood Collection Kit. After the cord blood is collected, your physician will package it in the Healthcord Cord Blood Kit for delivery to Healthcord for processing and banking.

What is HLA matching?

HLA matching is used to ensure that there is a match between a donor and recipient to prevent the chance of rejection of the donated cells. If you choose to bank your child’s cord blood, you will eliminate the possibility that the donated stem cells are not HLA matched to your child. Stem cells from your child will always be a perfect match to you child. By banking your child’s cord blood, your child’s own stem cells will be ready for use at all times during the lifetime of your child.

Can my child’s cord blood stem cells be used for siblings or other family members?

There is a high probability that your child’s cord blood stem cells can be used for siblings and other family members. Your child’s cord blood stem cells will be a perfect match to your child. However, it may also be very useful for other members of your family. There is a 25% chance that your child’s cord blood can be used for one of his/her siblings, and there is also a high chance that your child’s cord blood stem cells can be used for parents or grandparents.

My mother (or father, etc.) is sick; can my child’s cord blood save her?

Cord blood is intended to be used for the donor child and in some cases, the sibling of the child. While the odds of a tissue type match to a grandparent, uncle, aunt, cousin, or any other second degree relative is greater than a random match in the population, the probability is still low. Therefore it is not advisable to store cord blood for that reason alone.

Should everyone store cord blood?

There is always a chance that a child or other family member may develop an illness or cancer which will require stem cell therapy. Banking a child’s cord blood is a preventative measure for peace of mind and security. Once your child’s precious cord blood stem cells are banked, they are safe, they are a perfect match to your child, and they are ready for immediate use upon request in the event that the stem cells are ever required.

Who has the right to use the cord blood?

Your child’s cord blood is reserved for your family’s use, and you have full control over its usage while your child is a minor. Once your child reaches the age of majority, the stem cells belong to your child, and you child will have full control over the use and storage of the stem cells.

Why is it beneficial for my child to have his/her own stem cells for future use?

In the event that your child ever requires stem cells, it is often difficult or even impossible to find a perfect match from a bone marrow donor or the umbilical cord blood from another donor. Your child’s own stem cells are a perfect match to your child with no chance of rejection. By banking your child’s cord blood, you are ensuring that your child will have a supply of his/her own stem cells which are a perfect match to himself/herself which can be used for transplantation and therapy without fear of rejection or the inability to find a matching donor in time to treat the disease.

Cord Blood Banking – Before Delivery

When is the cord blood collected?

The cord blood is collected immediately after the birth of your child and after the umbilical cord is cut.

How is cord blood collected?

After the child is born, the umbilical cord is cut and clamped, and the cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord and placenta using a needle and blood bag.

Will the physician know how to collect the cord blood?

The cord blood collection procedure is safe and very simple and only takes a few minutes to complete. Most physicians are familiar with cord blood collection, but in the event that your physician is not familiar, a complete protocol is included in the Healthcord Cord Blood Collection Kit. If your physician has any questions, he or she is able to contact Healthcord directly at any time.

Why does Healthcord use the closed blood bag technique to collect cord blood?

The closed blood bag technique is the latest method of cord blood collection, and it is the method of choice because it is sterile and efficient compared to older techniques. Healthcord has implemented the closed blood bag technique for all collections.

How much cord blood is required to ensure that there are enough stem cells for treatment?

Healthcord recommends that 115g to 250g of cord blood be collected. In the event that the physician is unable to collect 115g, Healthcord will inform the client and discuss the options. Healthcord is set up with the latest state-of-the art laboratory and all CD34+ cell analysis is done directly by Healthcord upon receipt of the cord blood sample. Thus, Healthcord is able to determine how much stem cells are present in the sample. If the stem cell concentration is high, then it does not matter if the volume of the cord blood is low. Also, with advancing technology, scientists may in the future be able to amplify low quantities of stem cells, so the volume of cord blood collected may not be an important factor for future treatment.

Is the collection process safe for the child and mother?

The collection process takes place after the child is delivered and the umbilical cord is cut, so the cord blood collection procedure is absolutely safe for both the mother and the child.

What if the child is delivered by C-section?

The cord blood can be collected even if the child is delivered by C-section. This procedure is safe for both the mother and the child. Full protocols and supplies for vaginal and C-section delivery are included in all Healthcord Cord Blood Collection Kits.

Shipping Cord Blood

What if I do not live in Canada?

Healthcord is able to efficiently process and store cord blood from clients from outside of Canada.

How is my baby’s cord blood sample delivered to Healthcord?

Your Cord Blood Collection Kit will include all the necessary information you require to ship your cord blood to Healthcord in the required time-frame.  Healthcord typically offers several options for shipping, and you can choose the price and convenience level that suits your family.  If you have any specific questions about shipping, a Healthcord representative will be glad to help you. The Healthcord lab is operational 365 days a year to ensure that your sample is stored in the best possible condition.

Will I be notified when my child’s sample has arrived at Healthcord?

Yes, upon completion of processing, an e-mail will be sent from Healthcord to your specified e-mail address. Healthcord will issue a formal report with your test results and a certificate for your baby’s paediatric records.

Cord Blood – Processing & Storage

Will the blood be tested for infectious diseases and what types of diseases are tested?

Healthcord tests for all required infectious diseases. Healthcord furthermore takes the extra measure of testing for all cord blood collections. This ensures the highest quality of cord blood samples. The cord blood is tested for the following panel of infectious diseases:

  • anti-HIV1/2
  • Anti_HTLV
  • HbsAg
  • anti-HBc
  • anti_HCV
  • syphilis
  • CMV

Does Healthcord accept transfers of cord blood currently stored with other cord blood banking companies?

Yes, Healthcord is able to accept cord blood which is currently stored with other cord blood banking companies. Please contact Healthcord directly to make arrangements for the transfer.

What happens after the cord blood is received?

Immediately after the cord blood is received it is processed for long term storage. The cord blood is volume reduced to isolate the stem cells and to remove the plasma and red blood cells. The sterility of the sample is tested and the maternal sample is tested for infectious diseases. The sample is then cryogenically frozen and cryogenically stored and preserved for long term preservation.

Will I receive confirmation that my child’s cord blood has been banked successfully?

Yes, once your child’s cord blood is successfully banked, you will be notified by a Healthcord representative. You will also receive a certificate indicating the successful storage and banking of your child’s sample. The certificate will include the stem cell quantity and storage conditions.

How long will be the cells be viable after collection?

After collection, the cells are viable 48 hours at room temperature. Healthcord requires approximately 4 hours to process the cord blood for storage, so it is pertinent that the cord blood be received by Healthcord within 44 hours of collection.

Why is Healthcord’s process so streamlined?

Healthcord’s Quality System and state-of-the-art equipment make us an industry leader in the field of cryogenic technology. Healthcord’s fully equipped laboratory and testing facility is capable of processing and performing all key components of the procedure in house. This ensures the highest level of Quality Control and the fastest and most efficient processing. Healthcord is one of the only private banking facilities in Western Canada to be founded by doctoral Ph.D scientists, ensuring the highest level of quality and the latest technology for your peace of mind.

How long can cord blood be stored and still be effective?

Studies have demonstrated that cryogenically frozen stem cells retain their viability following fifteen years of cryogenic storage. Extrapolation based upon a half-life model suggests that stem cells can be cryopreserved for the lifespan of a patient.

How secure will the stored stem cells be?

Healthcord’s cryogenic facility is fully equipped with the latest state-of-the-art cryogenic equipment. The laboratory is alarmed and the cryogenic storage equipment are monitored and alarmed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Back-up systems are also in place. Healthcord’s strict quality control protocols and policies exceed AABB requirements, ensuring the highest level of security for your child’s cord blood.

What should I do if my family is moving?

If you move or change your address, please notify Healthcord so that your file can be updated with your latest contact information. It doesn’t matter where you move, even if it is overseas, Healthcord will still be able to securely bank your sample and release it to you immediately upon request.

Cord Blood – Application & Use

How do we retrieve the cord blood if our child needs it in the future?

You may access the stored cord blood at any time upon request, together with your requesting physician. When the cord blood becomes required for transplantation or treatment, arrangements can be made to have the cord blood shipped to you anywhere in the world. The cord blood will be shipped under controlled conditions to ensure that it remains fully viable and ready for immediate use.

Is there any cost to retrieving my baby’s stem cells?

No, Healthcord does not charge when you retrieve your baby’s stem cells.

Registering with Healthcord

When should I register with Healthcord?

You may register with Healthcord at any time during your pregnancy. It is highly advisable to register at least a few months prior to your delivery date to ensure that you are properly set up in the event that the deliver occurs earlier than expected. Once you register with Healthcord, you will receive a Healthcord Cord Blood Kit within 48 hours. The kit contains everything you need to proceed, and must be brought with you to the hospital during your delivery.

How do I register with Healthcord?

You may register quickly and easily with Healthcord by one of the following:

How much does it cost to save my baby’s cord blood stem cells?

Healthcord offers a panel of plans and payment options for its cord blood banking services to suit your needs. Click here to view Healthcord’s pricing.

What if I am having multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.)?

Healthcord can bank the cord blood from more than one child for situations involving multiple births.

What if I am planning on banking cord blood from more than one child? Is this necessary?

Yes. Your child’s cord blood will be a perfect match to himself/herself, but may or may not match a sibling. By banking the cord blood of each child, you will have the peace of mind in knowing that each child will have his/her own cord blood stem cells which will definitely be a perfect match to that child.

Health Questionnaire

When must I send this in?

Complete Part A of the Health Questionnaire (HQ) at your earliest convenience, ideally before you give birth. Bring the HQ to your doctor at one of your final appointments before delivery (within one month of your expected due date) and ask your doctor to complete Part B (note that some doctors may charge an additional amount for completing forms). After giving birth, sign and date Part A after verifying that your health status did not change.

If I have multiple accounts, can I combine them so that I can pay them together?

Yes, if you have more than one account with us, you can contact us to help you create a master account. We can also help you to consolidate the payments for all of the accounts into one invoice.

Additional Questions

I have already banked my child’s cord blood with Healthcord and am expecting another child. Will the children share the same account, or will they have separate ones?

You will receive a second account once you bank another child’s cord blood with us. Healthcord will be able to consolidate the accounts into a single master account, but each account will remain separate. This is especially important once the children reach the age of maturity as the cord blood will then belong to each child.

In the event that we need to use our child’s banked cord blood, how do we retrieve it?

You may retrieve your child’s cord blood quickly and easily at any time by contacting Healthcord. Healthcord will immediately provide you with a release form. Simply sign the form and indicate the physician and hospital name and address that you would like us to send your cord blood unit. Healthcord and the hospital will work out all of the details to have your cord blood quickly transferred for immediate use.

Is there any cost to retrieving my child’s cord blood?

Healthcord does not charge for any of the preparations involved in releasing your child’s cord blood. You will only be charged for the shipping expenses for transporting the cord blood unit to the hospital.