What are the uses and functions of stem cells?
A: If a patient receives chemotherapy or undergoes radiation treatment, all cells are damaged, including mature normal cells, stem cells and abnormal cells. Stem cell transplants are performed to provide new stem cells from a healthy donor to replace the defective ones. At least 80 diseases have been treated with stem cells. These include cancers (leukemias, lymphomas, myelomas), blood disorders (thalassemias, sickle cell anemia, Fanconi’s anemia), immune deficiency diseases, genetic diseases and other diseases.
What are Stem cells?
A: Can actively divide and produce new blood cells within 2-6 weeks and will stimulate regeneration of the blood components in the bone marrow damaged by very high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation.
Can correct diseases in which the marrow is diseased or does not function properly (e.g., immune deficiency, aplastic anemia, red cell aplasia, white cell disorders).
Correct enzyme deficiencies in children with inherited or inborn errors of metabolism.
Produce other types of cells that gradually travel to the brain, liver, and other organs.
What are possible uses of cord blood stem cells in the future?
A: There is a lot of existing and promising research on the horizon using cord blood stem cells to treat AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury and stroke.
StemCyte is involved in collaborative research using stem cells treating some of these diseases, with a primary focus on using cord blood stem cells to treat spinal cord injury through tissue regeneration.
What is graft vs. host disease (GVHD)?
A: Graft vs. host disease (GVHD) is a serious, life-threatening complication of stem cell transplants. It occurs when the transplanted stem cells attack the patient’s cells. Cord blood stem cells have been clinically shown to reduce the risk of GVHD and, if it should occur, it is less severe.
Why would a family choose to bank a baby’s cord blood?
A: Families want the reassurance that, should their child ever need a transplant, the source of stem cells will be a perfect match. In addition, families with a history of diseases treatable with stem cells know there is a much higher probability that they will need stem cell transplant in the future. Additionally, families with an ethnic minority background or families with children of mixed ethnicity may have specific interest in cord blood banking.
Unfortunately, current bone marrow registries are predominantly made up of donors of Caucasian descent. This makes it far more difficult for ethnic minorities to find a match should a stem cell transplant be needed. This is one of the main reasons that StemCyte was originally created–to build an ethnically diverse, public cord blood bank to fill the huge void that exists in the worldwide bone marrow registries for ethnic minorities.
Will another child or family member be able to use the cord blood?
A: With cord blood transplants, a sibling has the best chance of being a match (about 1 in 4). Parents and other family members have probable chance of matching the cord blood unit, though a perfect match is not necessary in cord blood transplantation.
What if I have a family member who needs my baby’s cord blood now?
A: The cord blood will be collected in the same manner. As soon as possible after collection a sample from the patient and the cord blood will be tested for compatibility. Should they be a match, we can prepare the collection to be ready for transplant
Should I bank cord blood for each of my children?
A: There is only a 25% of chance that the stored unit would match a sibling. Therefore, banking the cord blood stem cells of each child would increase the probability of a match available for a family member who may require a stem cell transplant.
How, when and where is the umbilical cord blood obtained?
A: The umbilical cord blood is collected after the baby has been delivered and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut. The cord blood can be obtained before or after the delivery of the placenta (afterbirth). In the postplacental method (ex-utero method), trained personnel will collect the umbilical cord blood after the afterbirth has been taken out of the mother’s womb. In the preplacental method (in-utero method), the physician/obstetrician collects the cord blood in the delivery unit while the placenta is still in the womb.
Using sterile techniques, your healthcare professional inserts a sterile needle into the umbilical vein to allow drainage of the blood by gravity into a sterile bag containing anticoagulant. The entire collection process averages five to ten minutes. Your baby’s collected unit will then be transported to our processing center for further processing, testing, and storage.
Regardless of collection method, all options are safe for both the mother and baby
Will any healthcare provider know how to perform the collection and who is likely to do it?
A: Your healthcare provider will perform the collection. This may be your doctor or midwife.
Detailed instructions for your healthcare provider are provided in the collection kit. Also, a medical staff representative will be available 24 hours a day if there are questions during the collection process.
Does StemCyte train my physician, midwife or labor and delivery staff?
A: Detailed collection instructions are included in the collection kit. Also, our medical staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to handle emergencies and answer questions from providers, labor & delivery staff, and parents.
Does the hospital need to provide any materials or information for the collection?
A: No. All of the necessary materials for collecting and shipping the cord blood will be contained in the collection kit that is sent to you. The hospital will not need to provide any additional materials.
Is the amount of blood collected important?
A: Yes. The greater the amount of blood collected, the more stem cells will be available for transplantation. This becomes particularly important if the onset of disease requiring a stem cell transplant occurs when the child has grown.
What if I have a C-section?
A: No problem. The cord blood can still be collected by your healthcare provider. Since cord blood is collected after the baby is born and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut.
Can the collection take place after the cord stops pulsating?
A: Some mothers, obstetricians, midwives and doulas prefer to wait until the cord stops pulsating before clamping and cutting it. The cord blood collection process should not interfere with normal birthing procedures, and it may begin after the cord stops pulsating.