SPECIAL REPORT

Stem Cell FAQs

What is umbilical cord blood?

  • Umbilical cord blood (also known as placental blood) is blood that flows in the circulation of a developing fetus in the uterus. Cord blood is typically collected during childbirth from the placenta and the umbilical cord. The cord blood is rich in hematopoietic stem cells.

What is a stem cell?

  • A stem cell is foundation for every living tissue and cell within a human body. Stem cells are able to repair and/or replace damaged tissue.

What are hematopoietic stem cells?

  • Hematopoietic stem cells are "progenitor" or immature unspecified cells that have the potential to later develop within a clinical setting. The cells are capable of differentiating into the components supporting both the blood and immune systems of a human.

What are the more common forms of stem cells found?

  • The two more common forms of stem cells found in humans are embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are often referred to as unlimited stem cells because they can develop into any living tissue. Adult stem cells are often referred to as limited stem cells because they can only be found in some developing tissue and/or organs.

What are the three main classes of stem cells called?

  • Totipotent stem cells - these cells have the potential to develop into an organism.
  • Pluripotent stem cells - these cells can give rise to all cell types in the body, but they don't give rise to supporting structures such as the placenta, amnion and chorion.
  • Multipotent stem cells - these cells give rise to small number of different cell types.

What is a cord blood bank?

  • A cord blood bank is a storage facility which preserves cord blood for future use. Since 1988, Cord blood that has been kept in a blood bank has been used in 1,000's of medical procedures. This includes blood transfusions treating immune system deficiencies and over 40 different life-threatening diseases.

Why should cord blood be saved in a cord blood bank?

  • Recent studies have demonstrated that cord blood can be use to assist in the treatment of life-threatening diseases. Cord blood is often used in situations involving children, often times when a bone marrow transplants is not a viable option.

Are there any risks associated with collecting of umbilical cord blood?

  • There are absolutely no risks and/or pain associated with the collection of umbilical cord blood.

When is umbilical cord blood collected?

  • Umbilical cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord immediately following birth. The collection process can occur in either a vaginal or caesarean delivery. Since a collection kit should be ordered, prior arrangements should be made before the birth.

What are some advantages of cord blood vs. bone marrow?

  • Significantly reduces risk of graft-versus-host disease
  • Greater immunological compatibility
  • Painless, noninvasive and risk-free
  • Essentially an unlimited supply
  • Simple collection process
  • Immediate availability for clinical use
  • Significantly lower cost
  • Lower risk of infections complications

Who should I contact to discuss cord blood banking?

  • There are two types of cord blood banking services available, public or private services.
    • Private cord blood banks store the cord blood for future use by the donator/family.
    • Public cord blood banks store cord blood for use among the general public on a case-by-case basis.
    • Listings of both public and private blood banks are available online.
  • Cryo-Cell International (www.cryo-cell.com), a private cord blood bank, has both a 24/7 call center (800-786-7235) and live chat online services that are staffed by medical specialists. Cryobanks International (www.cryo-intl.com), a public cord blood bank, can be reached at 800-869-8608.
  • There are many options to cord blood banking. It is important that you make an educated decision about the cord blood banking service you use for the collection and preservation of your child's cord blood. Click here to view some side-by-side comparison of private cord blood banking services (LINK TO SECTION ABOUT WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN CORD BLOOD BANKING SERVICES)
  • Please consult a medical professional that you trust if you have any questions about cord blood banking. Additionally, you can visit Cryo-Cell, International for additional information about cord blood preservation - http://www.cryo-cell.com/services/faq.asp.

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