Cord Blood

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about

Umbilical Cord Blood & Stem Cells

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A STEM CELL TRANSPLANT AND BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT?

Until now, the most common way to transfer stem cells from one person to another has been through bone marrow transplantation, which is a complex and risky procedure. Cord blood transplantation eliminates many of the problems associated with bone marrow transplants should your child need such treatment sometime in the future. With the availability of your childís own cord blood stem cells, you do not have to look for a suitable match, the painful bone marrow extraction procedure will not be necessary, and the transplant will not be rejected.†

WHEN AND HOW DO YOU COLLECT THE CORD BLOOD STEM CELLS?

The collection process takes place after delivery when the cord has been separated from your newborn infant. In no way does it interfere with the birth of your baby. Your attending physician, nurse or midwife collects the cord blood into a special, sterile kit provided by the Blood Center. The collected cord blood is sealed in a specially designed package and delivered to our laboratory for testing and processing. It is then stored in a special freezer. ††

HOW SAFE IS THIS FOR MY BABY, AND FOR ME?

The first priority is the care and well being of the baby. This procedure is very safe because the blood is collected after the cord has been separated from your baby. ††

DOES IT HURT ME OR MY BABY? WILL EITHER OF US FEEL IT? ††

Neither you nor your baby will feel anything since this procedure is only done after the cord has been detached. †

WHY SHOULD I PRESERVE MY BABYíS CORD BLOOD?

During pregnancy, the umbilical cord is the lifeline between mother and baby. Once the umbilical cord is discarded after your babyís birth, you lose the chance to preserve these precious cells that are an exact match for your child. Preserve your babyís ďtreasureĒ of stem cells with a guaranteed match so you will have life-saving protection against disease in the event that a life-threatening disease develops for your child or a sibling. ††

WHAT DISEASES CAN BE HELPED/CURED THROUGH THE TRANSPLANTATION OF THESE CELLS?

Stem cells are used today in the treatment of leukemia, breast cancer, lymphoma, Hodgkinís Disease, Aplastic Anemia, various other cancers, blood diseases, hereditary/genetic conditions and immune system disorders. There are approximately 1.4 million new cancer cases each year. As stem cell transplants become more routine they may be used to fight lung cancer, Sickle Cell Anemia, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, AIDS and many genetic diseases.†

IF I DONíT WISH TO PRESERVE THE CORD BLOOD FOR MY BABY, CAN I DONATE IT SO SOME OTHER CHILD OR ADULT CAN BENEFIT? †††

Yes. The umbilical cord is routinely discarded after the birth. You can preserve these life-saving stem cells by donating them to the Blood Center so they can become a lifeline for another child or adult suffering from a life-threatening illness. There is no charge to you for this option. ††

HOW MANY AND WHAT TESTS ARE DONE ON THE BLOOD?

The FDA requires eight tests to be performed on the motherís blood and the cord blood. We conduct all eight tests and an additional three tests ;†one for bacterial contaminants to make sure that the product from the cord blood is sterile, and the other two are to determine the number and viability of stem cells in the cord blood. ††

DO WE GET THE RESULTS OF ANY TESTS THAT ARE DONE? WHAT TYPE OF FOLLOW UP IS THERE?

The parents, upon signing a release form, can receive the test results. ††

HOW LONG CAN THESE CELLS BE STORED AND STILL BE USABLE?

Research suggests that these cells can last indefinitely. If you choose to save your babyís cells, they will be uniquely labeled and will be released only to you or to your child after he or she turns 18 years old. ††

WHY SHOULD I PRESERVE MY BABYíS CORD BLOOD?

When there is a history of any of the listed diseases in the family, having a perfect stem cell match is future protection for your baby; preserving these cells is insurance, should any of these diseases develop over time, even though no history exists. †

IF I CHOOSE NOT TO PRESERVE THESE STEM CELLS FOR MY BABY WHAT HAPPENS TO THEM?

After the birth of your infant, the cord is routinely discarded, or you can donate these stem cells to the Blood Center so that they will be available to potentially save the life of another child or an adult. ††

AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE IF MY CHILD OR ANOTHER FAMILY MEMBER NEEDS THESE CELLS, CAN WE CLAIM THEM?

The cells are uniquely labeled; no one can access these cells except you or your child when over the age of 18 years. †

IF THERE IS A HISTORY OF A DISEASE IN THE FAMILY, SUCH AS LEUKEMIA, WOULD IT BE IN THE GENES? IF SO, WOULD STEM CELL TRANSPLANTATION FROM THE CORD BLOOD STILL BE AN EFFECTIVE WAY TO TREAT THE DISEASE?

Leukemia is not present at the beginning of life, but is developed by mutation or change in normal genes later in life. Stem cells in cord blood represent cells before any changes have occurred in their genes. In case of other types of cancers (e.g. solid tumors), stem cells are not involved and can be used for transplantation. ††

CAN THE BABYíS STEM CELLS BE USED FOR THE SECOND BABY AND VICE VERSA? OR FOR A RELATIVE OR FRIEND?

Stem cells from a baby are a perfect match only for the baby or for an identical twin, though they may be a close match for a second baby (1:4 chance). A relativeís or friendís cells have to match, or closely match, the babyís type in order to be useful.†

WHAT STEPS DO I HAVE TO TAKE TO BECOME REGISTERED IN THIS PROGRAM?

To preserve the stem cells for your baby, or to donate them to the community, complete the Registration Form, Questionnaire and the Consent Form. Call the Blood Center at 201-444-3900 for paperwork and information. †

HOW LONG PRIOR TO MY DUE DATE SHOULD THE APPLICATION BE COMPLETED?

We prefer that you contact us at least four weeks prior to your due date, which gives you time to review the materials and ask questions. However, you can decide closer to your due date. ††

IS THERE A FEE FOR THIS PROCEDURE?

There is no fee for donating to the community. If you decide to store for yourself, there is a one-time fee for the collection kit, collection, processing, all associated tests and an annual storage fee. Cord blood stem cells are processed, tested, stored, monitored and are available immediately upon request. ††

WHEN IS THE FEE DUE?

Approximately one months after the successful collection, testing and processing of the cord blood, with the option of selecting the payment plan. †

WHAT IF YOU CANíT RETRIEVE THE CELLS FROM THE CORD AT BIRTH? WILL I STILL HAVE TO PAY THE ENTIRE FEE OR PART OF THE FEE?

If the collection is not successful there is absolutely no fee charged. †

WILL IT BE COVERED BY MY MEDICAL PLAN?

Some health plans are investigating whether to covering this procedure; †as the procedure becomes routine it will probably be covered†by most medical plans. ††

IS THIS SOMETHING MY INSURANCE COMPANY SHOULD BE INFORMED OF?

You should alert your medical insurance plan provider that you are participating in the cord blood program. †

WHAT IS THE MEDICAL CRITERIA TO ENTER THESE PROGRAMS?

Having a baby that is born full-term. †

WHAT HAPPENS IF IT IS A MULTIPLE BIRTH?

This is decided on a case-by-case basis. ††

WHEN IíM IN LABOR, OR ABOUT TO DELIVER, IíM NOT LIKELY TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT ANY EXTRA DETAILS. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I ARRIVE AT THE HOSPITAL?

You just carry the kit we have given you to the delivery room; the cord blood will be collected and the Blood Center will pick it up from the hospital. If the donation is for the community, the same procedure will be followed. †

ARE THE DOCTORS/NURSES AT MY HOSPITAL FAMILIAR WITH THE COLLECTION PROCESS?

After you register into the program with the Blood Center, you should discuss this with your physician. †

AFTER THE BABY HAS BEEN DELIVERED AND THE PROCEDURE OF COLLECTING THE CELLS HAS BEEN COMPLETED, HOW DO THE CELLS GET TO THE BLOOD CENTER?

After collection, the hospital will call the Blood Center (24-hour-service) and we will pick it up, bring it to the center and begin the processing procedure. ††

ARE YOU LICENSED TO PERFORM THIS PROCEDURE?

Yes, we are licensed by the New Jersey Department of Health and we have an accreditation by the American Association of Blood Banks. †

DOES THE FDA MONITOR THIS PROCESS AND DO YOU HAVE THEIR APPROVAL TO DO THIS?

To date, the FDA does not regulate this procedure. However, since we are a Blood Center and must follow all FDA guidelines and regulations for the collection, testing and processing of blood and blood products, we monitor ourselves and follow the same safety/sterile procedures in this program as we do for all other programs. The tests performed are the same tests done on every unit of blood collected. †

ARENíT THERE COMPANIES WHO DO THIS?

Yes, there are other for-profit companies licensed in New Jersey. †

WHY SHOULD WE CHOOSE THE BLOOD CENTER?

Bergen Community Regional Blood Center (BCRBC), founded in 1954, is a not-for-profit organization devoted to serve the needs of the community in the area of transfusion medicine. The BCRBC collects, tests and distributes blood and blood products to approximately 21 hospitals, medical centers in seven counties in New Jersey and New York.

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