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AlphaCord - Preserving Newborn Stem Cells

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  • What are stem cells?

    Stem cells are undifferentiated “mother” cells that mature into more specialized cells. They are the building blocks our body uses everyday in tissue repair and normal cell replenishment.

  • What is cord blood?

    Cord blood is the stem cell rich blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta immediately after the baby is born. Stems cells found in cord blood are hematopoietic, meaning they mature into blood cells. They are the source of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and are the foundation of our immune system. Although routinely discarded, cord blood provides millions the life-saving stem cells that can only be saved at birth.

  • What is cord tissue?

    Cord tissue refers to the umbilical cord itself. It is a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells which are different from the stem cells in cord blood. They are being researched extensively in the area of Regenerative Medicine. These cells can be collected and stored at birth as well.

  • What diseases are treated with stem cells?

    Stem cells from your child's Cord Blood could be used as part of a therapy associated with many cancers and blood disorders. see Diseases Treated With Stem Cells.

  • What is the likelihood that my child will get a disease that may be treated with stem cells?

    This is a widely debated question. Detractors say it may be as much as 1 in 10,000 chance of using cord blood as a child. Proponents say that when you consider the current list of diseases treated plus the extensive research that is taking place, perhaps 1 in 200 children born today may need a stem cell transplant of any source during their lifetime.

  • Who can use my baby’s stem cells?

    The cord blood can be used by the child it was collected from in many cases. There is also a very high chance it can be used for a full sibling, approximately 50%. There is also a 25% chance that the cord blood will match the child’s parents. At this time, if you were to go through the public banking system (donated cord blood) to find a match, you would have a much smaller chance of finding a match.

  • Do all my children need their newborn stem cells saved?

    All stem cells are genetically unique. Therefore, it is prudent to save cord blood for each child to ensure an exact genetic match. Also, there have been many cases where a sibling’s cord blood was used when the patient’s cord blood was not appropriate to use. More units in family storage will create better odds of matching a family member in need.

  • Cord blood vs. bone marrow

    Stem cells from your baby’s cord blood are a perfect match for that child. It is rare to find a perfect match from donated bone marrow. There is also a more likely chance that a sibling could use these stem cells than those from the bone marrow. There is less stringent need for a perfect match for siblings and other relatives because of a lower risk of graft versus host disease, or transplant rejection. Cord blood is also easier to collect than bone marrow and, when privately banked, is immediately accessible by your family, an important consideration when time is of the essence.

  • How and when is cord blood and tissue collected?

    Cord blood is collected immediately after birth and after the cord has been cut. The baby is out of the way and not involved in the process. It is painless for the mother and takes about 5 minutes. After the cord blood sample is complete, a section of the umbilical cord can then collected to preserve those unique stem cells.

  • Is cord blood / tissue collection safe?

    Yes. Both cord blood and cord tissue collection is safe, easy and painless for both the mother and baby.

  • Will any doctor or midwife know how to perform the collection?

    Yes. Cord blood and tissue collection is a very simple medical procedure. Easy to follow instructions are included in your collection kit. If your healthcare provider has any collection questions, we are available by phone 7 days a week.

  • Does AlphaCord use FDA-approved collection bags?

    Yes. We use a standard 250ml blood collection bag containing a CPD solution. This solution helps to preserve and nourish the cord blood while in transit. The bag is also suitable for C-Section delivery as there is a sterile extension set included.

  • How does the collected cord blood and tissue get from my hospital room to the processing laboratory?

    After the doctor or midwife collects the samples, they are placed into the shipping container and sent to the lab via our medical delivery service. Each kit contains specific instructions about the collection process, how to prepare the samples for delivery and how to arrange for pick-up at your bedside. Once they arrive at the lab, you will be notified. Finally, a staff member will update you on the samples progress until they are permanently stored. Once the units are in storage, you will receive a Certificate of Storage with a unique ID number for your baby’s samples.

  • Will the Cord Blood be tested?

    Yes, various tests will be run on your baby's Cord Blood to ensure that only viable and sterile samples are being put into storage. HLA testing is not done as this added expense will only be needed if the sample is withdrawn for use with an allogeneic transplant (not the child). Testing to ensure a match can be done if that situation arises. The HLA match testing will be done on a sample aliquot prior to withdrawal of the sample itself.

  • Is the cord tissue processed?

    Yes, just the right amount. The Wharton’s jelly is isolated for cryopreservation. Those components of the umbilical cord that do not contain stem cells are removed to prevent a contaminated sample. We do not fully isolate and expand the cells at this time. Similar to cord blood HLA testing, that is an expense that is unnecessary until the sample is withdrawn for transplant.

  • Will the lab store other types of tissue or blood with my baby’s Cord Blood?

    No. Only cord blood and cord tissue are stored in the cryogenic tanks.

  • How will I know my baby’s cord blood has been stored safely?

    Once it arrives at the lab and initial testing is completed, you will be notified. Once the unit is in storage, you will receive a Certificate of Storage with a unique ID number for your baby’s unit. The lab has full backup systems in case of a utility failure. The temperature and the liquid nitrogen level of the tanks are monitored both electronically and manually. Generator backup is engaged for any electrical outage. In worst case scenario, our AlphaCord tanks are on wheels, and we can transport them to a new location.

  • How long can the cord blood be stored?

    Cord Blood is stored at approximately -196°C. The field of Cord Blood preservation is relatively new. Samples that were 25 years old have been successfully transplanted. It is believed that the samples can remain indefinitely in the cryogenic state without losing viability.