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  • Cord Blood, Cord Tissue and Placenta Tissue
    Why save cord blood, cord tissue, and placenta tissue?

    Why save cord blood, cord tissue, and placenta tissue?

    Cord blood remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following a baby’s birth. Cord blood is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), currently used to treat about 80 blood- and bone-related diseases.

    Cord tissue refers to the tissue of the umbilical cord, not the blood it contains. Cord tissue contains mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which can transform into many different kinds of cells, including organ, muscle, bone, and cartilage cells. MSCs are not currently being used for treatment, but they’re being investigated in over fifty clinical trials worldwide because it’s thought that someday they may treat a huge array of diseases.

    Placenta tissue is a rich source of MSCs. Using our proprietary technique, we extract MSCs from the placenta that are a genetic match to the mother and may someday be used therapeutically.

    What are stem cells?

    A stem cell is a cell that has the ability to renew itself and differentiate into other kinds of cells. There are many types of stem cells, some of which are more valuable from a medical point of view than others. The most therapeutically valuable stem cells, called hematopoietic stem cells, are found in the greatest numbers in the cord blood of newborns. There are two primary reasons for preserving your newborn baby’s stem cells: (i) access to existing and emerging stem cell therapies if you or a family member needs them; and (ii) the promise of regenerative medicine. Stem cells have been used to treat over 80 serious diseases and have the potential to treat conditions that have no cure today.

    What diseases are being treated with stem cells?

    Cord blood stem cells are in use in medical therapies for more than 80 diseases and conditions, and there are several clinical trials studying possible treatments using cord tissue and placenta tissue stem cells.

    Are experimental treatments being done with stem cells?

    Yes, experimental treatments are the subject of research for diseases and conditions including Parkinson’s Disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s Disease and stroke recovery. Click here for a list of diseases for which stem cell treatments are the subject of ongoing research.

    Can stem cells be used to treat adults?

    Yes, stem cells can be used to treat adults. The problem is that traditional cord blood banking often only collect enough stem cells to treat someone under 65 pounds. With Cord Blood 2.0™, Americord has been able to collect enough stem cells to potentially treat an adult.

    Can cord blood stem cells be multiplied?

    For more than ten years, biotechnology companies and cord blood banks have been studying how to expand cord blood stem cells in a lab setting. Unfortunately, this has not yet been proven to be a reliable or viable therapeutic approach. When cultured, stem cells rapidly begin to differentiate into other tissue types, rather than multiplying into more stem cells.

    Who should save cord blood, cord tissue, or placenta tissue stem cells?

    Saving stem cells is a prudent choice if you or your spouse/partner have a family history of a disease that is treatable with stem cells, such as leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma.

    Ethnic minorities and families of mixed ethnicity should consider saving stem cells because these groups have greater difficulty finding stem cell donors when needed. Many genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia are more common in certain ethnic populations. Both of these diseases have been successfully treated with stem cells.

    Families preparing to adopt a newborn should consider saving stem cells since, if they are ever needed, the cord blood and placenta stem cells may be the only available genetic source of stem cells for the adopted baby. In addition, depending upon the terms of the adoption, complete family medical histories may not be available and stem cells might provide valuable medical information for the purposes of personalized medicine.

    Couples using fertility treatments that involve a donor egg and/or sperm should consider saving stem cells because this may be the only opportunity to secure a genetically related sample of stem cells for their child.

    Should you save stem cells from each of your children?

    Children are genetically unique and so are their stem cells. Saving stem cells for each child ensures an exact genetic match is available. In addition, it increases the likelihood of a useful match for other family members. Stem cells from a sibling’s umbilical and placental cord blood are up to twice as likely to be useful for a transplant as compared to stem cells from a sibling’s bone marrow. Even with identical twins, it is important to save as many stem cells as possible, and it is recommended that stem cells be collected from both babies. In general, the collection volume per baby in multiple births is smaller, so collecting placenta and cord blood stem cells for both babies helps ensure an adequate stem cell yield for transplantation if needed.

    What is the difference between cord blood and cord tissue?

    The physical tissue of the umbilical cord, (not to be confused with the cord blood that is drained from the umbilical cord), contains mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). MSCs are a different type of stem cell than those that are collected from cord blood in the umbilical cord because they are tissue-based and can proliferate into skin, connective tissue, bones, cartilage, and even organs. The type of stem cells that exist in great numbers in cord blood are called hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and they are blood-based stem cells.

    Collection, Processing and Storage
    Is collecting stem cells risky to the mother or baby?

    Collecting stem cells is painless, easy, and safe for mother and baby, and does not alter the normal birthing process in any way. Stem cells from the umbilical cord blood are collected after your baby has been born and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut. The umbilical cord is then routinely thrown away. The average time for umbilical cord blood collection is about 5-10 minutes and is performed by your medical professionals.

    Can stem cells be collected after C-section deliveries?

    Yes, stem cells from the umbilical cord blood can be collected after C-section deliveries. Americord® uses sterile collection bags, so that doctors do not have to use C-section adaptors. Having a sterile collection bag is important during a C-section in order to collect the maximum number of stem cells.

    Will my doctor know how to collect cord blood?

    Any doctor or midwife knows how to collect cord blood; it is a simple medical procedure. Easy to follow instructions are included in the cord blood collection kit. We also send a copy of the medical consent form to your healthcare provider so that if there are any questions in advance they can call or email us.

    Can I delay cord blood clamping and perform a cord blood collection?

    Yes. The recommended amount of time to delay cord blood clamping is 1.5-3 minutes. After this time, you should be able to collect the remaining cord blood and still provide the benefits to your baby that come from cord blood clamping.

    Can cord blood be stored for longer than 20 years?

    Companies have only been storing cord blood for the last 20-25 years. There is neither evidence that it cannot be stored indefinitely at liquid nitrogen temperatures (-196 degrees), nor is there evidence that it degrades over time.

    What cord blood processing methods does Americord’s® laboratory use?

    Cord blood stem cells are manually separated by trained technicians following a modified “Rubinstein method” with the chemical Hespan. We prefer this method because the entire process can be performed in a “closed” system (a sterile blood bag transfer set), greatly reducing the chances of external contamination while processing.

    How are stem cells from cord tissue processed?

    The cells are extracted and isolated from the cord tissue, tested to ensure viability, and then preserved in vapor nitrogen tanks.

    How are stem cells stored at Americord’s® laboratory?

    Stem cells from cord tissue, placenta tissue, and cord blood each have their own individual containers and are stored separately for individual use. Americord® uses specialized cryo-bags, not vials for storage. The cord blood storage cryo-bag container is encased in an outer casing, cooled slowly and temporarily stored in a quarantine freezer, then moved to a long-term freezer. The freezer uses vapor nitrogen to ensure sterility. The cryobags have two attached integral segments plus three separate segment so you can test the samples or take out part of the cord blood segments without thawing the whole collection.

    What is Americord’s® minimum threshold for storing cord blood in terms of milliliters and cell count?

    Americord’s® minimum threshold for storage is 100 million total nucleated cells, but the average collection is much higher.

    If the cord blood collection is smaller than the ideal amount, should I save it anyhow?

    Some clients opt to save even a small cord blood sample since future technology might enable the use of these cells or possibly the expansion of them. Several of our competitors store the collections regardless of these measurements without consideration of these factors, which really isn’t in the best interest of the client. If the yield is below par and the client decides not to store the sample, Americord® does not charge any fee.

    Does Americord® use Heparin in its cord blood collection bags?

    Americord® does not use Heparin in our cord blood collection bags. Heparin, which acts as an anticoagulant, preventing the formation and extension of blood clots, is not approved by the FDA for cord blood collections. Americord’s® FDA-approved cord blood collection bag uses an anti-coagulant called Citrate Phosphate Dextrose (CPD). CPD is approved by the FDA for cord blood collection.

    About Americord®
    Where is Americord® located?

    Americord®’s corporate headquarters is in New York City.

    How is Americord® licensed and registered?

    Americord® is registered with the FDA and operates in all 50 states. We are one of only two companies registered for collection stem cells from cord blood as well as the placenta. We also hold special licenses in states that require them, including New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Illinois. Americord’s® laboratory is CLIA Certified, American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) compliant, and complies with all federal and state guidelines and applicable licenses, and has been storing cord blood safely for over a decade.

    How strong is Americord® financially?

    Americord® is the fastest growing company in the cord blood industry and our management team includes seasoned cord blood banking professionals with more than 20 years of experience in the industry. As an independent firm, we do not have any parent company or private equity firm influencing the quality of our services.

    What additional licenses does Americord’s® laboratory hold?

    Americord®’s laboratory holds the following licenses: Indiana State Blood Bank License; New York Cord Blood Procurement License; New York Cord Blood Processing License; Maryland Medical Lab Permit; Maryland Department of Health And Mental Hygiene – Tissue Bank Permit; and, New Jersey Blood Bank License.

    How long has Americord® been storing cord blood?

    Americord® has directly offered cord blood banking to clients since 2008. Our CLIA certified, FDA registered, and AABB compliant laboratory has been collecting, processing and storing cord blood on behalf of other companies since 1997 and has over 35,000 cord blood units in storage.

    How experienced is Americord®?

    Americord’s® Medical Director, Robert Dracker, MD, MHA, MBA, is considered one of the founders of the cord blood industry. Dr. Dracker is a leading hematologist and FDA Pediatrics Advisory Committee member, prior Executive Medical Director at ViaCord, and one of the architects of the cord blood stem cell guidelines for NY State Department of Health.

    Does Americord® have a record of successful / unsuccessful transplants?

    Americord®’s laboratory has released several stem cell units for transplant; to date we have a 100% success rate.

    Does Americord® offer a cord blood product quality guarantee?

    Americord® is one of just a few cord blood banks that offers a quality guarantee, and our guarantee is the highest. If your child’s stored cord blood is used in a stem cell transplant and fails to engraft, Americord® will pay up to $90,000 to defray the cost of the procurement of an alternate stem cell source if medically indicated. See terms and conditions for details.

    What would it cost to store cord blood for more than 20 years?

    You can prepay additional storage with Americord® for $3,499 per 20 years of storage.

    When is my credit card charged for cord blood banking?

    After your baby is born and the stem cell collection has been sent to our laboratory, we will send you a Confirmation of Storage, certifying that your collection is viable and stored properly. Only then will you be charged.

    Will Americord® reimburse my doctor’s cord blood collection fees?

    If your doctor charges for the cord blood collection, Americord® will reimburse you up to $200 of fees that are not covered by your insurance. Please scan your invoice and send it to [email protected]  with the mother’s name clearly visible.

    Does Americord® have a referral program?

    Yes! If you refer a friend, we’ll give them $100 off their order and we’ll send you a $100 Amazon Gift Card. Just have your friend enter your name in the comments field when she completes the online enrollment, or mention it to our representative when enrolling over the phone.

    If I decide to cancel after I have enrolled, how do I return the Americord® 3-in-1 Collection Kit?

    Please call us at 866-503-6005 and we will provide you with an address to return the kit.

    What do I do with the Americord® 3-in-1 Collection Kit when I arrive at the hospital?

    When you arrive at the hospital, remind labor and delivery staff that you are saving your cord blood and give them the Americord® 3-in-1 Collection Kit. After the baby is born, your doctor will collect the cord blood and give the kit back to you or to a designated family member.

    When do I call the medical courier to pick up the Americord® 3-in-1 Collection Kit?

    After your baby is born, call the phone number on the Americord® 3-in-1 Collection Kit (our main number) to schedule a pickup by our medical courier. The courier will confirm the hospital location and pick up the kit from your bedside, usually within a couple of hours.

    Common Misconceptions
    Misconception: “A child can’t be treated with his or her own stem cells because the stem cells contain the disease.”

    Fact: Thousands of stem cell transplants using one’s own stem cells are performed every year for diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and many solid tumors. Research from the Journal of Clinical Oncology reports that even with early-onset disease (within twelve months of birth), the child’s stem cells are still recommended for use in transplantation. Using your own stem cells has many advantages as a transplant source, including no risk of graft vs. host disease (GVHD-a leading cause of death for transplant patients), immediate availability, and low risk of the cells being contaminated with disease.

    Misconception: “Odds that a family will ever need stem cells from cord blood are so low that people shouldn’t bother doing it.”

    Fact: Considering that the cause of most cancers is unknown and that the science of stem cell therapy is expanding rapidly, it is difficult to accurately calculate the odds that a family will use the cord blood or benefit from new treatments. However, according to medical research, the odds that a child will someday need to use his or her own newborn stem cells for current treatments are estimated at 1 in 5,000. Odds that the newborn or a family member may benefit from banked cord blood are estimated at 1 in 2,500. These odds do not include the emerging and potential use of newborn stem cells to treat heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and spinal cord injury. The continued progress in medical treatments would greatly increase the likelihood of use by your baby throughout her life. Based on current data, there is no “expiration date” for newborn stem cells.

    Misconception: “There is no reason for me to privately bank my baby’s placenta or cord blood stem cells when public banks can provide donated samples.”

    Fact: Presently, none of the public banks are able to provide stem cells derived from the placenta or cord tissue for use because the ability to successfully store and subsequently extract stem cells from cryopreserved tissue has not been possible until very recently. If autologous cells are not available, or cannot be used, stem cells from a relative (preferably a sibling) are usually the best treatment option. In fact, according to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, the one-year survival rate for patients treated with a sibling’s stem cells is approximately 63 percent. With stem cells from an unrelated donor, the survival rate drops to 29 percent. In addition, unrelated stem cells also put the patient at a much greater risk for developing potentially fatal GVHD (20 percent vs. 5 percent). Related stem cells also reduce the risk that the transplant sample may harbor genetic problems that could cause disease in the recipient because the family will know the genetic history. More importantly, because cord blood and placental stem cells are less mature than adult stem cells (bone marrow), they have a 50 percent likelihood of being a suitable HLA match between siblings, compared to only 25 percent for bone marrow. Public banks can help ensure an adequate sample for transplant but not the best or most preferable sample. When the issue is survival, this is significant. The families who bank stem cells want to help ensure the BEST chance of survival if the cells are needed, not just A chance. If families donate to a public bank, they hold no rights over the sample and it is likely that they will not be able to retrieve it again. For families to make an informed decision, it is important for them to understand that not all donated samples are banked. Multiple studies have shown that more than half of potential cord blood donors are not eligible for donation. As many as 71 percent of donations may be rejected by public banks based on family medical history, maternal medical history, collection volume, and examination of the maternal blood sample (Transfusion, January 2000, Vol. 40:1, 124).

    Misconception: “Placenta or cord blood stem cell collection takes important resources away from my baby.”

    Fact: The cord blood and placenta stem cells are normally discarded with the umbilical cord after it is clamped and cut. When you ask to have your baby’s cord blood and placenta collected, the only change from the normal procedure is that after birth, after the cord is cut, the baby’s cord blood and placenta is collected rather than thrown away. Collections generally take place after the placenta has delivered.