Advantages » FAQ's

You probably have many questions before contracting our services. We are at your disposal to answer any questions that may arise through our contact page.

These FAQs are based on the concerns shared with us by the majority of mothers, family members and friends who call and write us in order to better understand this process. We have therefore listed the questions and answers to make your search easier. Simply click on the question that interests you and the answer will drop down.

WHAT SCIENCE SAYS

1. When was the first medical use of umbilical cord blood?

Although it has only been very recent that umbilical cord blood has received media attention, the first stem cell transplant from umbilical cord blood was performed in France in 1988 on a child with Fanconi anemia, a rare congenital anemia. In 1991, a transplant was performed on a child with myelogenous leukemia. Both transplants were successful, opening the door for the use of umbilical cord blood instead of the more traditional bone marrow transplants.

Since then, approximately two thirds of the stem cell transplants from umbilical cord blood have been performed in malignant diseases. The other third is used for a variety of genetic disorders. In general, stem cell transplants from umbilical cord blood have a very optimistic picture of success.

2. What are stem cells?

These are the cells that grow into all body cells. They are the "building blocks" in your blood and immune system; red and white blood cells and platelets are derived from stem cells. There are three main sources of stem cells: bone marrow; peripheral blood (which circulates throughout the body); and umbilical cord blood. Stem cells act as "master cells" responsible for producing all types of cells in the body. They are at the forefront of the most fascinating and revolutionary areas of modern biology. Scientists are constantly discovering innovative uses for these cells because they have the unique ability to multiply or become another type of cell. There are different types of stem cells. The "hematopoietic" are the ones collected in the umbilical cord and can multiply and develop within the major components of the bone marrow, blood and immune system. Studies continue to progress daily towards explaining how a single stem cell can develop into an organism and, more importantly, how these healthy cells can replace damaged ones. This last field is known as reparative or regenerative medicine. Stem cells are used in this field in the fight against some high-risk conditions, having the potential to allow researchers to grow and rejuvenate specific cells and tissues so that, in the future, they may be used to treat more illnesses.

3. When are stem cells used?

Patients suffering from malignant diseases like leukemia and some cancers can be treated with radiation or chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells. The treatments with radiation and chemotherapy are effective in destroying malignant cells; however, this process can also destroy the patient's healthy cells and bone marrow.

Bone marrow is essential for the production of blood cells. If it is destroyed by a malignant, non-malignant or genetic disease, a stem cell transplant will be required. These transplanted stem cells re-populate the bone marrow, supplying the body with new cells. A growing number of patients are being diagnosed with diseases that can be treated with stem cell transplants. The limitation of this approach is the lack of availability of an exact match of donated stem cells for the recipient. The degree of match is determined by the Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA) which is the main histocompatibility system in humans and appears as genetic information encrypted in blood white cells. Most patients in need of stem cells are unable to find a valid donor. By using the stored stem cells from oneself or a relative, the patient is given the highest odds of finding an exact match for his needs or at least a close enough match that is acceptable for a transplant. Moreover, in transplants of cord blood stem cells, there is less of a risk of host disease (GRAFT VS. HOST illness), a disease that causes an attack of immune system cells from the donor against the recipient and that sometimes appears in bone marrow transplants and other complications related to rejection by the body cells of foreign cells.

4. Why is the umbilical cord an important source of stem cells?

Umbilical cord stem cells offer numerous advantages over other types of stem cells. Because these stem cells are sourced from the umbilical cord post-birth of the child, there is neither moral nor medical dispute surrounding their harvesting. Umbilical cord blood stem cells from your child have a 100% match with that child. There is also a chance of compatibility with brothers, parents, grandparents and other relatives. These cells have recently made the most important news headlines but few people understand that there are different types of stem cells:

  • Adult stem cells:
    They come from the bone marrow and an operation is required for their extraction. Finding a match this way is very difficult and, in many cases, impossible.

  • Embryonic stem cells:
    These cells are obtained from an embryo. They are highly controversial and very often debated in the media due to their moral, ethical and religious implications.

  • Cord blood stem cells:
    This method is completely natural and free from controversy, having been approved by the Vatican as well as other religious, moral and ethical organizations. Offering many advantages over any other method, cord blood stem cells become available at the time of birth, require minimal time and effort to extract, and the process causes absolutely no pain or risk to either the mother or baby. But the most important thing is their immediate availability when you and your family need it most. Treatment can begin immediately, without wasting time looking for compatibility, since they are perfectly compatible with the baby and potentially can be used by other family members as well.

5. If my child develops an illness, wouldn't the blood from the umbilical cord have that same illness?

Each year there are thousands of autologous stem cell transplants (using cells from oneself) for diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and various solid tumours. Research by the "Journal of Clinical Oncology" has shown that, even when the disease occurs in the first year of life, the baby's stem cells can be successfully used in the treatment.

6. What is the host illness (GRAFT VS. HOST illness)?

A graft (implant of a foreign tissue in an organism) versus host illness is a rare disease that occurs in cases of immunosuppression (significant alteration of the immune system); for example, viral infections after a transplant, anti-tumor treatments, etc.

A graft versus host illness may occur depending on the response that the graft or host has to the implant until it adapts to it. Symptoms include: fibrosis (proliferation of fibrous connective tissue) of the skin, similar to scleroderma, frequent infections, and renal and hepatic problems.

THE PROCESS

1. When should I register?

It is recommended that you make this decision as soon as possible. Once you receive your kit, you will have one less worry and be relieved of unnecessary anxiety. In case of a premature birth, you will already be prepared. We know that you have many responsibilities and preparations before your baby arrives and we are here to help to make this entire process as simple and efficient as possible. If an emergency arises or the pregnancy is very advanced, please contact us and we will do our best to work with you and find a great solution.

2. How do I register?

It is very simple to register with Safetycord, just fill out our registration form; you can also register by phone and we will guide you through the process.

3. Is there a discount for repeat clients?

Yes. To qualify for discounts to Safetycord repeat clients who want to contract our services again, you just need to login through the private access, and enroll with the Enrollment button that you can find in the upper right corner. To be eligible for the discount and to safeguard the privacy of babies, it is necessary that both parents are the same.

PRIVATE ACCESS

4. How is the blood extracted from the umbilical cord?

The process of extraction of umbilical cord blood is very simple, without any risk to the mother or the baby. Immediately after birth, and once the baby is separated from the umbilical cord, a member of the medical team extracts the umbilical cord blood, depositing it in the bag supplied in the kit. The blood from the placenta and umbilical cord enter the bag by gravity. This bag comes prepared with an anticoagulant to protect the blood and assure that it will arrive in perfect condition to the laboratory. The entire process is simple and efficient, usually requiring no more than 5 minutes to carry out.

5. What happens after the extraction?

Make sure that all data is filled out correctly on the forms within the kit and call Safetycord. The phone number is in the kit. After this call, Safetycord will send someone to collect the kit from the hospital and send it to the laboratory for processing and storage. Alternatively, you may also drop the kit at the courier office following the instructions of Safetycord.

6. Do I receive confirmation that the kit has arrived to the lab and the unit is valid?

Yes. You will receive an SMS text on your phone and an email confirmation.

7. How are stem cells stored?

Umbilical cord blood is stored in a special double-compartment bag in liquid nitrogen. Each bag is placed in a larger heat-sealed bag. This double wrapping provides additional protection to the blood, creating a barrier against cross-contaminants and protection in the event of any breakage. The bag is kept in a vapor phase of liquid nitrogen during the quarantine period. Once all required tests have been completed and the results are acceptable, the umbilical cord blood is transferred to a tank of liquid nitrogen.

8. Where are they stored?

At Community Blood Services Stem Cell Lab, a pioneer bank for the cryopreservation of stem cells, located in Allendale, New Jersey, USA. The advantage of the laboratory compared to others is that the entire process starting from the arrival of your kit takes place in the same location; that is, analysis, processing, storage and sample preparation for transplant (when necessary).

9. What happens if my baby's stem cell count is very low?

In this case, we will contact you as soon as the laboratory informs us in order to make a joint decision. As a precautionary measure, please ask the doctor or midwife or person performing the extraction to try and draw the maximum amount of blood from the umbilical cord and placenta. This will maximize the amount of stem cells that we can extract.

OTHER QUESTIONS OF INTEREST

1. What happens if there is a power failure?

Our freezers can maintain their internal temperatures for 30 days without any power. We also have our own generators.

2. Why is the storage option up to 20 years?

At the time you contract the service of Safetycord, the owner of the stored sample is the mother (as stipulated in the contract), but after 20 years, your child will be of age and therefore owner of the sample, requiring a new storage service contract.

3. What would it cost if I require the sample before the contract expires?

In the case that you paid in full for 20 years of storage, the expenses would be pro-rated and you would be refunded the corresponding amount.

4. How much does it cost?

Safetycord price details can be found in the pricing section.

5. What should I do if I need the stored cells in the future?

If you need the cells for a transplant or therapy, Safetycord will assist the parents with the paperwork for the transfer of cells to the hospital where the procedure will be performed. We remind you that within our services we also facilitate access to the most distinguished medical experts and medical centers in the USA.