Cord blood is the blood that remains in a baby’s umbilical cord and placenta immediately after the baby is born and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut.
Cord blood is rich in blood stem cells, in particular haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), and other important cells that have the ability to create and heal our organs, blood, tissue and the immune system. These cells from the umbilical cord are in pristine condition making them some of the most flexible and potent in the body.
Yes, cord blood stem cells differ from other types of adult stem cells. Cord blood has the following benefits:
Cord blood and cord tissue are rich in powerful stem cells and can only be collected at birth for potential future use.
Stem cells are being used today for medical treatments, and there is an increasing range of new therapies being investigated that anticipate using cord blood and tissue in the future. Your baby's stem cells are a perfect match for your child.
The cord blood and tissue cells are owned by you and your child and can only be released for use for your child.
By banking cord blood and tissue for every child, you are making sure that they will have access to their own cells if they ever needed. This is particularly important as more regenerative medicine applications become available.
Both products have different types of cells, which have the potential for different types of treatment. Cord blood is a rich source of (haemopoietic stem cells or HSCs) and other types of immune cells. Cord tissue contains mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which form into bone, cartilage, muscle and tendon. MSCs have qualities that dampen the immune system and reduce inflammation. These two cell groups (HSCs and MSCs) have different roles in the body, therefore lead to the potential for different treatments.
Cord blood and tissue is collected by a trained obstetrician or midwife.
The collection happens immediately after your baby is born and the cord has been clamped and cut. The cord blood is collected into a sterile collection bag. The procedure is painless for both mother and baby, and takes around three minutes. The cord tissue is collected after the placenta has been delivered. Find out how it works here.
An important requirement for cord blood collection is the timing of the clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord. Generally a baby’s cord is clamped within one minute of birth. This time frame ensures the cord blood remains in the umbilical cord and placenta for collection. Research has shown that the volume of cord blood collected at birth is directly related to the success of the cord blood transplant - the greater the cord blood volume, the better the clinical outcome of the treatment.
Delayed cord clamping and cord blood banking can both be achieved through consultation with your health care professional and Cell Care. Health care providers can manage both reasonable delayed cord clamping and cord blood collections. If delayed cord clamping is part of your birth plan, we recommend a delay of up to 60 seconds to ensure we still achieve our average collection volume – remembering that the amount of cord blood collected relates closely to the cell dose that may be obtained from any given collection. In the first minute after birth, up to 80% of blood volume is transferred from the placenta to the baby. This means that 1 minute of delayed cord clamping allows for your baby to receive the majority of cord blood at birth and still achieve sufficient cord blood for long term banking.
Evidence shows that the more stem cells collected means more cells are transplanted. This increases the survival rate of the cells during transplant. The number of stem cells available depends on the amount of cord blood collected.
Cell Care analyses the number of stem cells in every cord blood sample. Occasionally there will be less stem cells than expected. In this case, if the cell count exceeds our minimum benchmark you will be given the option to decide whether you wish to continue storage of the sample.
Cord blood and tissue collection is not affected by your method of delivery. The collection takes place once your baby is born and the umbilical cord has been cut and clamped.
If you are having a caesarean delivery, our collection pack is entirely sterile and suitable for use in theatre.
Premature birth is not an issue unless your baby is born at earlier than 34 weeks gestation. Deliveries earlier than this generally result in a smaller baby and therefore a smaller placenta, and this normally does not allow for a adequate collection of cord blood. Cell Care may collect prior to 34 weeks gestation, following written approval from your healthcare provider.
Cell Care's standard procedure is to continue storage of cord blood if a bacterial contamination is contracted. Contamination of stem cell products (either cord blood, bone marrow or peripheral blood) is not a contraindication to storage, and samples can be used for transplantation together with antibiotics. If the sample be needed for use, the treating physician will be informed of the contamination, and the antibiotic sensitivities of the organism. This process is in line with FACT/Netcord Standard's.
No. Once you register with Cell Care you will receive a collection pack containing everything that your lead maternity carer, obstetrician or midwife will need to collect your baby's cord blood and tissue. You just need to remember to take the pack with you to the birth centre when you go in to have your baby.
Hospital staff do not perform the cord blood and tissue collection. If your LMC is part of the hospital team, please let us know.
Cell Care transports from most regional birthing centres. This can usually be achieved in less than 24 hours.
Further, the Cell Care transport container and its temperature stabilising elements have been specifically designed to maintain optimal conditions during transport.
When your baby's cord blood and tissue has arrived at our facility, you will receive a confirmation text message. Cell Care's scientists process your baby's stem cells as soon as the cord blood and tissue samples arrive at our facility. Our processing facility operates 365 days a year.
You will also receive a follow up call to confirm the storage status of your cord blood and tissue within two weeks of your baby's birth.
Cell Care ensures that your sample cannot be mixed up at any point using a triple-identification system:
Your baby's cord blood is tested for:
Stem cells are difficult to identify just by looking at them; the only proof that a cell is a stem cell is determined by how it acts when it multiplies. Therefore Scientists have developed a number of tests to determine the amount of stem cells in a sample. A protein found on the surface of stem cells is called CD34+ and this is the best known marker for blood-forming cells. Cell Care conducts these tests using its own state-of-the-art instrument (called a flow cytometer).
We also store frozen vials of cord blood plasma and buffy coat cells. These can later be used for extra testing, for example prior to release of the sample for use.
Every cord blood sample is accompanied by a maternal blood sample. This is taken at the time of baby’s birth, usually before your baby is delivered. This is tested for some of the following infectious agents;
We understand that these tests have often been carried out during pregnancy however it is important for them to be done at the time of delivery, as the results can inform us if the cord blood is infected with any of the above pathogens.
Cell Care has its own state-of-the-art processing and storage facility in Melbourne, Australia. The facility has controlled swipe card access, constant CCTV security monitoring, and back-to-base intrusion alarms monitored by an external security company 365 days a year. Critical areas have been temperature-mapped and are continuously monitored. Each cryogenic storage vessel is supplied with liquid nitrogen from a 12,000L bulk liquid nitrogen tank. This is via vacuum insulated piping that ensures the cells have a continuous source of liquid nitrogen.
Once the cells have been processed, they are moved to a cryogenic storage tank for long-term storage in the vapour phase of liquid nitrogen.
Scientists have determined that all cell activity stops once the cells are frozen and stored at cryogenic temperatures. There is no potential for further damage because there is no molecular movement meaning the cells can be stored for extended amounts of time without compromising their integrity.
Currently cord blood stem cells do not have a use-by date. Published research suggests that there is no cell degeneration after 30 years of cryopreservation. Comparatively, bone marrow and other human tissues and cells have been stored for decades and have stayed viable. There is no reason to believe that the same would not be true for cord blood and tissue stem cells.
If you do need to use your cord blood and tissue cells for a medical treatment or a clinical trial, please contact Cell Care. There are TGA approval requirements that need to be met prior to the cells being released and we will assist you in meeting these.
Importantly, there is no charge for the release or transportation of the samples if they are ever required.
The cord blood units that Cell Care has released have been used for therapeutic use in both a clinical and approved research setting. All of our releases to date have been viable for use – this is the ultimate validation of our quality processing and storage technique.
It is difficult to predict the probability of using stored cord blood. There are many factors that impact the likelihood of use including:
It is important to note that estimates of use may differ significantly for these reasons. Today, based on currently approved therapies and ignoring the trials and research being undertaken, the chance of a child needing a stem cell therapy is 1 in 3,000 2.
Over a person’s lifetime the likelihood of requiring stem cell therapy is estimated at 1 in 2002.
Cell Care offers a complete online enrolment. It's a simple 4-step process that takes 10 minutes to complete:
1. Choose whether to bank cord blood, or cord blood and tissue
2. Select your payment plan
3. Pay a deposit ($99 or $130) depending on the storage plan selected
4. Complete medical questionnaire
A 'Yes' response to any question on the medical questionnaire does not necessarily mean your baby's cord blood and tissue are not able to be stored. The medical questionnaire is designed to alert us to potential medical conditions, which may affect the condition or viability of your cord blood and tissue sample. The medical questionnaire also provides important medical information for a doctor to consider, prior to using your baby's cord blood and tissue for transplantation.
If you have answered yes to any of the critical questions the laboratory may request that you send a copy of your serology test results that were taken by your obstetrician or health care provider during your pregnancy. This is to minimise the risk to both couriers and laboratory staff handling contaminated blood.
Cord blood that is positive for HIV or hepatitis C cannot currently be banked with Cell Care. If you answer yes to any other questions Client Services will discuss them with you when you enrol with us.
To be absolutely certain to receive your collection kit before going to give birth, we suggest enrolling as early as possible. We send your collection kit to you when you are 34 weeks pregnant. Cell Care will do everything possible to facilitate last minute registrations.
Cell Care offers clear and flexible pricing options, use our pricing calculator options to see and compare our different pricing plans.
Yes, Cell Care have special pricing options for multiple births and siblings. Use our pricing calculator to work out the discount you will receive.