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What are stem cells?

Stem cells are the body’s “master cells”. They are the building blocks of all organs, tissues, blood, and the immune system. In many tissues they serve as an internal repair system, regenerating to replace lost or damaged cells for the life of the person. Stem cells are considered the building blocks our body uses everyday in tissue repair and normal cell replenishment.

Doctors were initially using stem cells derived from the bone marrow in patients who had received chemotherapy for cancer, to regenerate their blood and immune cells. In the late 1980s, they started using cord blood stem cells to treat diseases that had previously been treated with bone marrow transplantation.

Stem cells are today successfully being used to save lives. They also are being researched in an revolutionary new area of medicine called regenerative medicine, where scientists are studying the use of stem cells in experimental treatments for conditions like brain injury, diabetes and acquired hearing loss.

What is cord blood?

Throughout pregnancy, the umbilical cord is the lifeline between the mother and baby. The cord blood located in the placenta and umbilical cord contains a special type of stem cells. These cells are called hematopoietic stem cells, and they are the building blocks of our blood and the foundation of our immune system. Hematopoietic stem cells are blood-forming cells with the ability to self-renew. These unique cells have the potential to treat over 80 diseases and disorders; examples include, but are not limited to, leukemias, lymphomas, stem cell disorders, myelodysplastic syndromes, and more.

What is cord tissue?

Cord tissue refers to the umbilical cord itself. It is a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) which are different from those found in cord blood. MSCs can form bone, cartilage, and tissue cells and are predominantly found in the cord tissue. Cord blood predominantly contains hematopoietic stem cells.

Mesenchymal stem cells are used extensively in the exciting area of regenerative medicine research. They are also used in numerous clinical trials for wound care, spinal cord injuries, and joint and bone diseases. In certain studies, cord tissue stem cells have shown the ability to enhance cord blood treatments and transplants. MSCs are being referred to as “smart cells” that head straight to the site of the injured cells to stimulate new cell growth.

What diseases are currently treated with cord blood stem cells?

Storing stem cells for your newborn can change or even save a life. Cord blood stem cells have been used for over 30 years to treat more than 80 life-threatening diseases and disorders. Today stem cell therapies continue to evolve, bringing new hope to patients and their families. Below are just a few diseases and disorders that have been treated with cord blood stem cells:


  • Acute Leukemia
  • Chronic Leukemia
  • High-Risk Solid Tumors
  • Hodgkin & Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Blood disorders

  • Aplastic Anemia
  • Beta Thalassemia
  • Diamond-Blackfan Anemia
  • Fanconi Anemia
  • Sickle Cell Disease

Immune disorders

  • Chronic Granulomatous Disease
  • Hystiocytic Disorders
  • Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Diseases
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome

Metabolic disorders

  • Krabbe Disease
  • Hurler Syndrome
  • Metachromatic Leukodystrophy
  • Sanfilippo Syndrome

Preserving newborn stem cells makes them available for your family. For inherited genetic conditions, the child may not be able to use his or her own stem cells. In these cases, a matched sibling’s stem cells would be the first choice. Only privately storing stem cells for your newborn, offers access to current regenerative medicine clinical trials in autism, diabetes, and brain injury.

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

This continues to be an open question within the scientific community. According to data from Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation the cumulative probability of having a stem cell transplant increases as people get older, since rates of cancer increase. In the US, 1 in 217 people will have a stem cell transplant (not just need one, but have one) by age 70. Hence the cord blood that parents store from their newborn might be of help to an immediate family member years from now. The cord blood is most likely to match first degree relatives: siblings and parents.

Who can use my baby's stem cells?

Full siblings are the most likely to be compatible matches, with 75% chance of being at least a partial match. The child’s biological parents will always be a partial match. Extended family members like grand-parents, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews are less likely to be immune compatible but still have the chance to be a partial match. If you were to go through the public banking system (donated cord blood) you would have a much smaller chance of finding a match. Public units also take more time to be located and released for use. Other family members could be a match. There is a higher chance of matching and a lower rejection rate for direct family members compared to unrelated donor stem cells.

Do all my children need their newborn stem cells saved?

All stem cells are genetically unique. Therefore, it is wise to save each child’s blood to ensure an exact match for that child. There have been many cases where a family member’s cord blood was used to treat another family member. More units stored creates better odds of matching a different recipient.

What is placental tissue?

This remarkable organ is responsible for transferring oxygen and nutrients between mother and baby. Tissue from the placenta is an abundant source of mesenchymal stem cells, and these cells are being studied around the world for applications in regenerative medicine, due to their well-documented ability to reduce inflammation and modulate the immune system. The placenta also contains epithelial stem cells that are precursors to the growth of skin, and endothelial stem cells that can promote blood vessel formation

Cord Blood vs. Bone Marrow

It is often difficult to find a matching bone marrow unit/donor. Stem cells from your newborn’s cord blood are a perfect match for that child. Often, there is a greater likelihood a family member can use another’s cord blood stem cells than stem cells from bone marrow because of a lower risk of rejection. Cord blood collection is a pain free procedure and much simpler to collect than a bone marrow extraction.

How and when is cord blood and tissue collected?

The cord blood is collected immediately following the birth of the baby, using an FDA approved, sterile cord blood collection bag. The baby is safe, out of the way, and not involved in the collection process. Collection is pain free and takes about 5-10 minutes. Once the cord blood has been collected, the umbilical cord is cut and placed in its sterile container. Following placental delivery, your doctor/midwife will place the placenta in the designated sterile bag. It will be sealed and placed into a leakage prevention bag and transportation pouch. All containers, bags, and pouches are pre-labeled with a unique client ID number. The samples will be placed inside the collection kit and readied for shipping to our lab for processing and cryogenic storage.

Is cord blood, cord tissue, and placenta collection safe?

Yes. Cord blood, cord tissue, and placenta collections are safe and painless for both mother and baby. It is now considered a common and routine procedure in many hospitals across the country.

Does AlphaCord use FDA-approved collection bags?

Yes. We use the 250ml blood Macropharma collection bag containing a CPD solution, additional rinsing bag with 8ml of CPD, and a second cord blood collection line. The CPD solution helps to preserve and nourish the cord blood while in transit to our lab. The bag is sterile for vaginal and C-Section deliveries. It uses a two, 12-gauge needle system. These wider needles allow for faster blood flow and reduces the possibility of clots. Having an additional needle allows for a second insertion to collect even more blood.

Will my doctor or midwife know how to perform the collection?

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

How does my blood get from my hospital room to the processing laboratory?

Following the birth of your baby, the doctor or midwife will collect the samples and place them in your kit. Your kit will be shipped via Priority Overnight Service to our lab.

Will the cord blood and tissue be tested?

Yes, various tests will be completed on your baby’s cord blood and tissue to ensure it is viable and sterile. Potency will also be measured.

Is the cord tissue processed?

Wharton’s jelly and other stem cell rich tissues are isolated for cryopreservation. The components of the umbilical cord that do not contain stem cells are removed to prevent contamination. At AlphaCord we preserve the cord tissue as whole segments so that your family have access to all the different cells in the cord including cell types such as mesenchymal, endothelial, epithelial, neuronal, hematopoietic, and perivascular. Research is still in early stages for cord tissue, and by preserving the cord tissue whole, your family will have access to the most options science has to offer and the best available future technologies, as research advances.

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

No. Only cord blood, cord tissue, and placenta tissue are processed and stored in our cryogenic tanks.

What happens after the cord blood and tissue arrives at the lab?

Upon arrival, your baby’s stem cells will be processed and prepared for storage by our experienced lab technicians. Within 72 business hours of the pick-up, you will be notified by email that your samples arrived and were processed. About 6-8 weeks after processing, you will receive a Certificate of Storage. This will show your unique ID number and processing results.

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

Once your newborn’s stem cells arrive at the lab and initial testing has been completed, you will be updated by email. About 6-8 weeks after processing, you will receive a Certificate of Storage with a unique ID number for your baby’s unit for your records and sample reports. Our lab has full backup systems in case of a utility failure. Backup generators are available if an electrical outage occurs. The temperature and liquid nitrogen levels of every tank are regularly monitored, electronically and manually. Typically, our tanks can hold appropriate temperatures for several days before they require refilling.

What kind of cord blood storage bag is used?

We use the FDA approved industry standard, 2 chamber storage bag. Our bags hold 25mL’s (one 5mL chamber and one 20mL chamber) of cord blood stem cells. We also offer a 5 chamber storage bag option. To enroll with the 5 chamber storage bag, simply call us for more details.

How long can newborn stem cells be stored?

Newborn Stem Cells are stored at approximately -196°C (-316°F). Some of the oldest samples successfully engrafted were cryogenically stored for over 30 years. Scientific researchers believe that items suspended in a cryogenic state can remain viable in a cryogenic state indefinitely.

What do I do if I need to retrieve my child's cord blood, tissue, and placenta?

Call us! We will send you and the treating physician the necessary release forms. The physician may first request an aliquot (small test sample) to confirm viability and blood type matching, and to perform HLA testing. We will deliver the aliquot and the subsequent sample(s) to the medical center by overnight courier in a cryogenic shipper. Currently, we do not charge a retrieval fee for samples being used for life-saving medical treatments.

AlphaCord will ship your baby’s stem cells to an accredited medical treatment facility within the continental United States at no charge for samples being used for lifesaving medical treatments.

What does AlphaCord charge to retrieve my child’s sample?

Currently, we do not charge a retrieval fee for samples being used for lifesaving medical treatments. AlphaCord will ship your baby’s stem cells to an accredited medical treatment facility within the continental United States at no charge for samples being used for medical treatments.

What if I want to cancel my account(s)?

You will need to contact us and request an Account Termination Form. Once you complete the form and have it notarized, send it back to AlphaCord. AlphaCord charges an Account Termination Fee of $150 per account. For clients on an annual storage plan, submission of your “Account Termination Form” must be made prior to sixty (60) days of your renewal date to avoid the next year’s storage fee.

Kit can be returned for a full refund if returned within sixty (60) days prior to the due date. Overnight or expedited shipping of the kit is non-refundable. Kit must be unopened and un-tampered with. Clients must mail the kit in with packaging that will protect the integrity of the box and at their own expense.

How do I enroll with AlphaCord to save my baby's cord stem cells?

You can order online via our website by following the “Order Now” link 24/7. If you would like to speak with a Cord Blood Expert over the phone, please give us a call at (404) 315-6500. A representative is always available.

What makes AlphaCord different from other private cord blood banks?

AlphaCord has been in business nearly 20 years and has processed and stored over 30,000 samples. We have a 100% success rate of providing viable cells for infusion and engraftment. Our mission is to provide the most affordable banking options, while maintaining the highest clinical and scientific standards.

Is the company financially stable, and how long has it been in operation?

AlphaCord has been in business since 2002. Each year, our operations have grown and been profitable. Business decisions are conservative and focus on limiting financial risk. We do this to ensure the long-term success of the company.

Does AlphaCord provide a lab registered by the FDA, and accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), and other organizations?


When should I decide?

It’s best to let both AlphaCord and your healthcare providers know of your intention to collect as early as possible. Informing your physician prior to collection permits time to prepare for your collection and ask questions if needed. Since many deliveries occur prior to your due date, we highly recommend you enroll at least 30 days prior to your anticipated due date; However, we can frequently accommodate last minute orders. Call us at
(404) 315-6500 if you are at the hospital and need a kit.

We are here to help

Have more questions about storing your newborns’ stem cells? Give us a call at (404) 315-6500 or contact us here.

Closeup of a couple embracing the mother’s pregnant belly.