Cord blood frequently asked questions With Caricord
Get answers to frequently asked questions about cord blood to help you make important decisions.
What do stem cells do and what are they used for?
Stem cells have the ability to multiply and produce new blood cells. They can also kick start the regeneration of bone marrow that is damaged or destroyed due to illness, injury or medical treatment, such as chemotherapy, and treat diseases of the bone marrow, including immune deficiencies, types of anemia, and red and white blood cell disorders.
Stem cells are smart. They possess the power to seek out “sick” or damaged bone marrow and work to heal the cells. They are also considered the building blocks of all other types of cells in the body, having the ability to produce cells that will become brain, ocular, skin, muscle and other organ cells. Stem cells also have the capacity to correct inherited enzyme deficiencies in children.
Stem cell transplants are used on patients following chemotherapy or radiation treatments. During chemotherapy or radiation, all bone marrow cells – including both the healthy and diseased – are destroyed or damaged during the treatment. New, healthy stem cells, either those taken from the patient and preserved prior to treatment or those from a matching donor, are transplanted in order to replace the damaged or destroyed cells.
Stem cells are used to treat more than 80 diseases and illnesses, including certain types of cancers (leukemia, lymphoma, etc.), blood disorders (certain types of anemia), genetic and immunodeficiency diseases and more, and the list continues to grow with new research and medical breakthroughs.
What is cord blood?
Cord blood is the blood that flows in the umbilical cord between the mother and unborn baby while still in the womb. The umbilical cord provides the baby will all the blood, food and nutrients needed during development. Once the baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut and the baby is able to breathe and receive nourishment on its own.
The blood in the umbilical cord is a rich source of stem cells and hematopoietic progenitor cells. The blood that is left over after the cord is cut can be collected by your healthcare provider in the minutes following birth and stored in cryogenic storage at a cord blood bank for future use by your child or possibly other family members to treat dozens of diseases and illnesses.
What are hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs)?
Blood-forming stem cells are called hematopoietic progenitor cells, or HPCs. This type of stem cell are used in the treatments of many cancers as well as many blood and immune disorders. These cells are located in cord blood, bone marrow and peripheral blood.
Are HPCs from cord blood different from HPCs from other sources?
HPC antigens from cord blood are considered to be “immature” cells and are not required to be an exact match to be considered compatible, as opposed to HPCs from bone marrow or other blood. Because of this, researchers are confident that patients will experience fewer adverse reactions from HPCs from cord blood, as compared to other blood sources, because the body is less likely to view the cells as a threat and attack them.
Will cord blood uses and treatments change in the future?
New research and medical breakthroughs are happening all the time in the field of cord blood stem cells!
New studies and clinical trials are underway looking at the effect cord blood stem cells have in the treatments of many new diseases, including AIDS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s diseases, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, stroke, and so many more.
CariCord is an active partner in the exploration of many of these new treatments and is excited to be a part of the promising future of health care utilizing cord blood stem cells.
How are patients matched to donated cord blood for use in treatments?
All blood is made up of 6 specific protein markers called human leukocyte antigens, or HLAs, that are used as identifiers, all unique to each individual person. HLA markers of the patient and the donor are compared for compatibility prior to a cord blood transplant. The HLA markers are what the body’s immune system uses to identify the body’s cells or identify foreign bodies in the blood. If the body does not recognize the cells, the immune system kicks into gear to eliminate the foreign material.
Matching the HLA markers of the patient and donor are crucial to ensure a successful transplant and help reduce the risk that the body will recognize the new cells as a threat and attack them following a transplant (called Graft vs. Host Disease.)
Should I be concerned about graft vs. host disease (GVHD)?
Anytime a person receives a transplant, there is a possibility of developing Graft vs. Host Disease. GVHD is a serious, even life threatening, possible complication of any type of transplant, stem cell transplants included. This disease is the result of a patient’s body rejecting the transplant and attacking the cells as though it were a foreign material in the body.
While there is no way to completely eliminate the risk when receiving a transplant, experience has shown that the risk is significantly reduced when cord blood stem cells are used, and when/if it does occur, it has shown to be less severe.
Why should we bank our child’s cord blood?
With new advances in stem cell research, more and more diseases, illnesses, and injuries are able to be treated with stem cells. It is estimated that a person has a 1 in 217 chance of needing some type of stem cell transplant at some time during their lifetime. Many parents want to give their child a greater chance to find a matching donor, by taking the proactive step of cord blood stem cell banking.
Not only does this provide reassurance for parents that their child will always have a perfect matching source of stem cells, but there is also comfort in knowing those stem cells are a possible match for the entire family! Full siblings have a 1-in-4 chance of being a perfect match and parents will each always be a “half match” to his or her stem cells. For families with a history of inherited diseases, especially those currently known to be treated or cured with stem cells, cord blood banking is an even greater benefit.
Also, due to the fact that the majority of bone marrow and cord blood donation registries are made of up Caucasian donors, families of mixed racial or diverse ethnic backgrounds are especially encouraged to bank their baby’s cord blood. Banking their cord blood proves especially beneficial because it is much more challenging for those with a diverse background to find a matching donor from worldwide public registries.
Will the cord blood be a possible match for siblings or parents?
As stated above, yes! A full sibling has a 25 percent chance of being a perfect match and parents are considered a half match to their child because they received half of their genetic information from each parent. And, since a perfect HLA match is not necessary with cord blood transplants because of its young nature, siblings and parents can still be considered compatible even if they are not a full 6-of-6 HLA match.
What if I’m adopting a child?
You can still bank your baby’s cord blood if you are adopting! The enrollment process is the same except that the birth mother, if available, will be the one to fill out the medical history forms and she will be one providing a maternal blood sample to be tested for infectious diseases. That’s it!
Often times, adoptive parents do not know the family medical history of their child’s biological parents or they know that a biological parent or sibling will not be available down the road if their baby ever needs a stem cell transplant. So, they choose cord blood banking to guarantee the best possible chance for their child to have a matching stem cells, should they ever need them in the future.
What if my family has a current need for my baby’s cord blood?
CariCord has an FDA-approved lab for publicly donated cord blood processing and storage. One aspect of our state-of-the-art facility is a full time HLA typing lab that can determine if your baby’s cord blood is a match for another family member. Once the transplant process has been initiated by the attending health care provider of the patient needing the transplant, our lab technicians will process the samples and provide their findings.
Do I need to store the cord blood from all my children?
Even though there is a greater likelihood that a sibling or parent will be a suitable match for each other, there is always the chance that they will not be compatible with each other for a stem cell transplant. Also, there are instances where using a child’s own blood is not ideal for treatment. Therefore, we recommend family’s bank the cord blood of all children in order to provide the greatest chance of a match should someone in the family require a stem cell treatment.
Do I have options when it comes to cord blood banking?
As a parent, you have three options when it comes to your baby’s cord blood. First, you have the option to store your child’s cord blood at a private bank, such as CariCord, which makes the cord blood stem cells available exclusively to your baby and family for any future use or need. Second, you can donate your baby’s cord blood to a public cord blood bank where it will be used for research purposes or for transplants for any matching person who needs it. Third, is the option to not save the cord blood at all. If a parent chooses this option, the cord blood is disposed of as medical waste following the birth of your child. Unfortunately, the majority of all births follow this route, but as more and more parents are learning the benefits of cord blood banking and cord blood donation, the numbers of those who choose to give this gift of life is increasing each year.
Does the FDA regulate cord blood stored privately for family use?
Private cord blood banks must abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the FDA, including facility registration, donor screening, infectious disease testing, reporting and labeling, as well as other practice regulations. However, the FDA does not require prior approval for cord blood use for the person who donated it or for first or second-degree relatives of that donor.
What about FDA regulations for cord blood stored in public banks?
Any cord blood that is stored for use by an unrelated patient is considered a “drug” under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, as well as being a “biological product” under the Public Health Service Act, section 351; therefore, the cord blood must meet the requirements set forth as such, and be licensed by the appropriate application before transplantation.
Has the FDA approved any uses for cord blood?
The FDA has approved cord blood for use in hematopoietic stem cell transplants for treatments relating to the hematopoietic system, including certain cancers and immune system disorders. Cord blood is used to treat more than 80 diseases and disorders.
If a cord blood bank is registered with FDA, does that mean that the cord bank is FDA approved?
All cord blood banks are required to register with the FDA. They must list their products and methods, along with several other requirements. This does not mean they are FDA-approved. It simply means that specific establishment has met all the notification requirements necessary to operate, as set forth by the FDA. CariCord, however, is both FDA registered and operates in an FDA-approved lab.
A searchable database with all registered cord blood banks is available on the FDA website.
Are cord blood banks inspected by the FDA?
The FDA does routine inspections of all registered cord blood banks, both public and private. They do this to ensure the cord blood banks are following regulations as well as confirming infectious disease prevention measures are being followed, in accordance to the guidelines set forth by the FDA.
Can I get more information on cord blood donation?
Cord blood donation, as opposed to privately banking, is an option expectant parents have for their child’s cord blood. To make a cord blood donation, which means it is available for anyone who needs it or for research purposes, you can contact your healthcare professional or hospital representative to see if your hospital offers this option or visit the Health Resources and Services Administration website (HRSA.gov).
How can I find out more about privately banking my child’s cord blood?
Privately banking your child’s cord blood ensures that they or other close relatives (siblings, parents) will always have potentially matching cord blood stems cells if they are ever needed. These stem cells belong exclusively to your family and will always be there when you need them. To find out more about privately banking your child’s cord blood with CariCord, visit CariCord.com or call one of our friendly representatives today.
Can I get more information about FDA's regulations?
Information about cord blood banking, transplants, requirements and regulations, and more is available on the FDA's web site.
What is the cord blood collection process?
There are two methods for collecting cord blood – either right before or immediately following birth. Both methods are completely safe and painless for mother and baby, however, CariCord, along with most medical professionals, prefer that the cord blood be collected after birth. For this method, once the baby and placenta are both delivered, the umbilical cord will be clamped and cut. Using the supplies provided in your collection kit, your doctor or nurse will then carefully collect the cord blood using a sterile gravity method.
To do this, he/she inserts a needle into the umbilical vein and the blood drains into a collection bag that contains an anticoagulant. It is then packed up and readied for shipment. The entire process is discrete and takes only minutes; it’s likely you’ll be so enamored with your new arrival that you will forget it is taking place.
Your cord blood unit is then ready to be shipped to our lab for processing. Your collection kit contains everything needed for collection and shipment of your baby’s precious cord blood.
Who will collect my baby’s cord blood? Will they know what to do?
Your baby’s cord blood will be collected by your healthcare provider. He or she will likely be familiar with the process but we provide instructions and a phone number for our knowledgeable representatives in case there are any questions throughout the process. We also send a courtesy memo to your doctor prior to your child’s birth to inform them that cord blood collection will be taking place.
Does CariCord provide everything needed for the collection?
Yes. Everything you or your healthcare provider will need to collect and ship your baby’s cord blood is included in the CariKit. This includes collection supplies, instructions, shipping labels and information, which you will receive prior to your child’s birth.
Do I need to be concerned with the amount of cord blood collected?
Yes. When it comes to cord blood collection, the more, the better. The more cord blood collected the greater the number of stem cells your child will have access to, if they ever need them. Also, since the larger the person, the more stem cells are needed for a transplant, making the volume even more important should they need a transplant as an adult.
Can I bank my child’s cord blood if I have a C-section?
Yes! The cord blood collection process is the same once the doctor has delivered your newborn. They will proceed as usual once the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut.
Can we delay umbilical cord clamping and still be able to preserve the cord blood?
Delayed clamping is a concern for many parents, many of whom prefer to wait until the cord stops pulsating before they clamp and cut it. That is completely fine and as long as the collection process starts within about two minutes of birth, there should be no problem with collecting the cord blood then.
Shipping and Handling
What is the shipping method to send the cord blood to the lab?
Leave the shipping to us! We handle all the details so you don’t have to worry about it. We use only highly experienced medical couriers to safely transport the cord blood from the hospital to our lab for processing.
Our storage containers are state-of-the-art, highly insulated and crush resistant, made to protect its precious cargo. It can endure extreme weather conditions, all while maintaining optimal temperature.
Once your cord blood unit is packed and labeled, just call the phone number included in the kit and we’ll take care of the rest!
How long do we have after birth to get the cord blood to the lab for processing?
In order to maintain the highest quality and maximum number of stem cells, your cord blood unit must reach our lab within 48 hours of collection.
What temperature should we keep the cord blood?
Cord blood should be stored at room temperature at all times. This includes immediately following collection and during shipment. Your CariKit shipping container is designed to maintain this temperature from the time it leaves your hands, until it is delivered to our lab, regardless of weather conditions.
Will you inform me when my cord blood arrives?
Yes, we will call you to let you know when your cord blood shipment has made it safely to our lab.
Is cord blood banking only available if I live in the United States?
Residents of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico are all eligible to bank their baby’s cord blood with CariCord.
Does the doctor charge to collect the cord blood?
Most doctors do not charge a fee, however, some doctors will bill patients for this service. Please check with your healthcare provider to find out his or her policy on cord blood collection.
Is there a time limit to use the stored cord blood before it is no longer considered viable?
It is believed that cord blood units can be stored indefinitely. To date, cord blood that was in cold storage for more than 20 years was still found to be viable and researchers believe there is no time limit on when it has to be used so long as it remains in constant, cryogenic vapor phase of liquid nitrogen.
How do you guarantee that cord blood is stored properly and safely?
Our state-of-the-art FDA-approved facility is top-notch when it comes to safety and security. In addition to being stored in our double-locked, stainless steel liquid nitrogen freezers, our cord blood units are constantly computer monitored for any change in temperature or unauthorized access.
Also, our reciprocating bar code system ensures that every unit is properly labeled and continually checked for accuracy in identification. We quality check and recheck to ensure that your cord blood unit is both safe, secure and properly identified.
What is the fee to retrieve our cord blood unit?
There is no fee to retrieve your cord blood unit for transplantation. It is your cord blood and always will be there for you and your family. The only fees incurred are those from the initial processing and the annual storage fees.
What if we need the cord blood unit? What then?
Your transplant physician will contact us and initiate the retrieval process, if someone within your family is found to have one of the more than 80 diseases treatable with cord blood, providing that person is a match to the stored blood. Once that is confirmed, we will collect your cord blood from storage and prepare it according to your physician’s orders.
The CariCord Difference
How is CariCord different?
We are here to meet all of your family’s cord blood banking needs. We are located on the Anschutz Medical Campus at the University of Colorado in Aurora, Colo. The cord blood lab here has been in operation for more than 17 years. We are not a “here today, gone tomorrow” operation.
Your child’s cord blood will be processed in a highly accredited, facility that operates under the strictest and highest standards and that has been licensed by the FDA to manufacture public cord blood units as a drug. Your child’s blood will be processed by the same lab technicians, using the same process and materials, as these licensed units. We are geared toward current treatments and therapies, as well as finding the great medical discoveries of tomorrow. Parents can rest assured that their child’s cord blood is in the most capable hands by banking with us.
How does CariCord save more stem cells?
There is nothing more important to us that your baby’s cord blood stem cells. We have a superior track record when it comes to quality. We take every step possible to ensure that the maximum number of stem cells are harvested from your baby’s cord blood. We do this beginning with our collection and storage methods all the way to our meticulous processing in our state-of-the-art lab.
We use the exact processing, materials, equipment and staff as our FDA-approved sister cord bank, the University of Colorado Cord Blood Bank, at the University of Colorado. Because of this, the highest quality cord blood is what you receive.
Our lab techs use precise, proven methods to test and process your cord blood, resulting in the maximum number of stem cells possible, helping to greatly improve the chances of a successful transplant, should you or your family ever need it.
Is CariCord accredited?
We are a highly accredited and FDA-registered operation. We are one of the very few cord blood banks approved by the FDA to manufacture cord blood as a pharmaceutical drug. Our laboratory features a Class 10,000 clean room and our staff has a record that speaks for itself; they have the extensive expertise and experience to handle, process, and store your valuable cord blood with the utmost care. In addition to being FDA registered, we are also accredited by FACT, AABB, CAP, and ASHI and our emphasis is on quality.
Is the company financially stable?
CariCord is a component of ClinImmune Labs, Inc. The other component of this is the University of Colorado Public Cord Blood Bank. Our unique public/private cord bank puts us in a good position for stability, growth and financial security. We have a more than 17 year history of collecting, processing and storing cord blood and have grown to be one of the largest cord blood banks in the United States.
When should I enroll to have my child’s cord blood banked?
It is best to enroll by the start of your third trimester in order to have time for shipment of the CariKit without incurring any rushed shipment charges; however, parents can enroll all the way up to the last two weeks before birth. Be sure to enroll early, just to be on the safe side!
How do I enroll?
Enrollment for cord blood banking at CariCord can be done online at CariCord.com or by phone at 844-227-4267. Don’t hesitate to call our friendly, knowledgeable customer service representatives if you have any questions!
How much does it cost?
CariCord takes great strides in making cord blood banking affordable for families of all incomes and budgets. We offer several discounts and payment plans to accommodate our clients’ needs. The current cost of cord blood banking - enrollment, CariKit, shipping, medical courier fees, processing and the first year of storage, is $2395 LESS current discounts, which range from $400 - $700. There are also special offers for medical professionals and public service personnel. Be sure to check our website, or ask a customer service representative to learn about any deals or specials that may apply to your family!
Is cord blood banking confidential?
Yes, it is. We respect our clients’ privacy and do everything we can to ensure it. We do not release any medical information about you or your child without your signed approval, or as required by law. We abide by the Health Information Portability Accountability Act (HIPPA) and protect your medical information.
What are the contents of the CariKit?
All items are delivered in the cord blood shipping container. Inside is a temperature pack, shipping labels, collection kits of the maternal blood sample, as well as the cord blood. This includes blood collection tubes, disinfectant, collection needles, bandages, history forms, as well as a sterile collection bag, labels and delivery information.
Do cord blood banks abide by federal regulations and policies?
Yes, many, but not all, regulations for tissue banking and cord blood banking fall under the scope of the FDA.
How long has cord blood banking been in practice?
In October of 1988, Matthew Farrow, a then five-year-old with rare blood disorder called Fanconi anemia, made medical history – he received the world’s first transplant with cord blood stem cells. The stem cells he received were acquired from his baby sister’s umbilical cord blood. After the transplant his condition improved dramatically and he did not develop HVGD.
Since the time of Matthew’s transplant, stem cell research has helped to transform medicine. Today, more than 80 diseases are treated and CURED through the use of cord blood stem cell transplants!
To date, more than 30,000 cord blood transplants have been performed world-wide and more than 2 million cord blood samples are privately stored by families in cord blood banks.
Is there a minimum amount of cord blood required for banking?
CariCord requires at least 10 cc of cord blood for processing and storage at our facilities. Of course, if the cord blood collection is less than 10 cc’s the family will be notified and given the option to continue with the plan to store the cord blood, donate it, or discard the sample.