Frequently Asked Questions
Stem Cell Overview
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.
Throughout a 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 hematopoietic, or blood forming. They are the building blocks of our blood and the foundation of our immune system. They can reproduce into red blood cells (which carry oxygen throughout our bodies), white blood cells (which fight off infections), and platelets (which create clots preventing us from bleeding excessively). 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.
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. Mesenchymal stem cells are used extensively in the 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.
Stem cells from your child’s Cord Blood could be used as part of a treatment therapy associated with cancer, anemia, and immune system disorders that avert the body’s capability to defend itself. Diseases Treated with Stem Cells
This continues to be an open question within the scientific community. Advocates in favor of storage believe when you consider the current list of diseases treated plus the extensive research taking place, perhaps 1 in 200 children could benefit.
Direct siblings and parents have about a 75% + chance of matching. 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.
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.
This remarkable organ is responsible for transferring oxygen and nutrients between mother and baby. Much like the cord tissue, placental tissue is rich in Mesenchymal stem cells; however, these are in an adult form. These cells are multipotent stem cells, meaning they can identify and form into many different types of cells such as organ, muscle, skin, bone tissues, and more.
It is often difficult to find a matching bone marrow unit/donor. Stem cells from your baby’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.
The Collection Process
The cord blood is collected immediately following the birth of 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.
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.
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.
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.
Processing & Storage
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.
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.
The 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. Currently, we do not fully isolate and expand the cells until a sample is needed for transplant and/or treatment.
No. Only cord blood, cord tissue, and placenta tissue are processed and stored in our cryogenic tanks.
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.
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.
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 404-315-6500
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.
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.
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 life-saving medical treatments.
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 15 days of due date. Kit must be unopened and un-tampered with. Client must mail the kit in with packaging that will protect the integrity of the box and at their own expense.
If you elected for annual storage and cancel before your fifth year of storage, you will be billed a cancelation fee equal to the balance of your remaining 5 years of storage.
It’s best to let both AlphaCord and your physician group 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 minutes orders. Call us. 1-404-315-6500 if you are at the hospital and need a kit.
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.
AlphaCord has been in business since 2002. Each year, our operations have grown and been profitable. We are a zero-debt company. Business decisions are conservative and focus on limiting financial risk. We do this to ensure the long-term success of the company.