Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions are commonly asked by parents.
If you would like additional information about cord blood donation, please contact us at: email@example.com or 905.471.1113
CORD BLOOD USE
Q: What is Cord Blood?
When a baby is born, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut. The blood left in the umbilical cord and placenta is called ‘cord blood’. It is rich in stem cells that can be extracted, frozen and stored below minus 150 degrees Celsius. When needed for medical treatment, cord blood can be thawed and transplanted into a sick patient.
Cord blood has been used successfully in the treatment of over 80 different diseases including leukemia, thalassemia, sickle cell anemia and lymphoma. Cord blood is also used to treat patients who have damaged bone marrow due to radiation, chemotherapy, disease or genetic conditions. The therapeutic application of cord blood is being investigated in clinical trials for the treatment of a variety of diseases/disorders, including cerebral palsy, Type 1 diabetes, hypoplastic left heart syndrome and spinal cord injury, to name a few.
Cord blood is a waste product because it is usually thrown away after a baby is born. There are no ethical issues related to the use of cord blood and it is accepted by most religions including Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim faiths. The only exception is the Jehovah Witnesses, who may object because it is a blood-based treatment.
Q: Why Cord Blood Is Important.
Cord blood is an accepted source of blood stem cells for transplantation. Stem cell transplants, like organ transplants, require a tissue match between the donor and the sick patient. Tissue matches are most common between people with the same ethnic backgrounds. Some ethnic groups (Aboriginal, African-American, Asians and Southern Italian) and people of mixed ethnicity have a much harder time finding the match they need. In many cases, cord blood may be the only treatment option for these individuals. Additionally, cord blood cells are immature and more adaptable so an exact tissue match is not required for use in transplantation. This makes it is easier and faster to find a suitable donor. Medically, transplant side effects are reduced and, if present, are usually less severe. We encourage donations by Canadians of all ethnic backgrounds.
Q: What are the Limitations of Cord Blood?
It takes longer for the umbilical cord blood stem cells to start producing blood cells in the recipient compared to stem cells from adult donors obtained either from bone marrow or mobilized peripheral blood.
Q: How Do I Donate My Baby’s Cord Blood?
STEP 1: Registration:
- Complete the online registration form before the established deadline. Our Program Educator will email you 4 forms: this informed consent, Health and Risk Questionnaires for both mother and father, and a Prenatal Health Letter.
STEP 2: At your next prenatal visit, discuss public banking with your Doctor/ Midwife.
- Talk to your health care provider about cord blood collection. Ask him/her to sign the Prenatal Health Letter
- Review your birth plan regarding delayed clamping. If donating cord blood, the cord must be clamped no longer than 60 seconds after birth.
- Physicians and hospitals may charge collection fees; please explain that your cord blood will be donated to a public bank and ensure that fees are waived. VAR is not responsible for hospital collection fees
STEP 3: Acceptance:
Submit your completed forms by fax or email. The Program Educator will let you know whether you are eligible to donate your baby’s cord blood and will answer your questions. Applications are screened according to FACT Standards and Health Canada Regulations.
STEP 4: Receive Kit:
The Cord Blood Collection Kit has all required instructions, packaging and supplies for the collection of cord blood. The Program Educator will organize how you will receive your kit prior to birth. It will arrive as close to 36 weeks gestation as possible. Your cord blood collection kit should remain at room temperature at all times.
STEP 5: Collect Cord Blood at Delivery and Return to Lab:
- Ensure you take your collection kit to the delivery room. Remind your health care professionals you will be donating your cord blood.
- Along with the cord blood, 3 tubes of the mother’s blood are collected in provided tubes.
- After the cord blood mother’s blood have been collected, have a partner or friend: (a) package the blood according to the kit’s easy instructions (b) call our ‘Shipping Pick Up’ phone number within 4 hours of birth to let us know that the sample is ready to be picked up. The Bedside Pickup driver will arrive at your hospital bedside during business hours, usually the next day.
- Once the sample is received and analyzed, lab staff will designate the cord blood unit to either medical use or research.
STEP 6: Follow up:
Several weeks after birth, our Program Educator will send you a short questionnaire to review the mother and baby’s health. It is the parent’s responsibility to advise VAR if there are any significant changes in the health of the infant.
Q: How is Cord Blood Collected?
- Nothing will change in the delivery of your baby. Cord blood collection occurs after the baby is safely delivered and the cord is cut.
- It takes 3–5 minutes to collect approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup of cord blood. There is no danger or risk to mother or baby. Delayed clamping of 60 seconds or less is acceptable when donating cord blood. The collector will insert a needle into the blood vessels of the cut umbilical cord to remove as much cord blood as possible. This is usually done before the placenta is expelled from the uterus. The blood is collected in a sterile collection bag and labels are completed. The physician may share medical information about the health of you and your baby and the delivery.
- The cord blood is packaged according to the simple directions found in the kit. This protects the blood against temperature changes. The kit should remain at room temperature.
Q: What are the Risks/ Discomfort Related to Donating Cord Blood?
- Normal birthing practices are employed when cord blood is collected. There is no risk to Mother or Baby. Should medical complications arise during birth, the health of the mother and baby is of primary importance. In these cases, cord blood may not be collected
- Mothers will have 3 tubes of blood drawn within 7 days of birth. This may cause pain, bruising and/or fainting.
- In rare occasions, some hospitals may not collect the required blood from the mother. On these occasions VAR will arrange to have the mother’s blood drawn. This may require the mother to go to a blood testing facility within 7 days of the birth of your baby
Q: Will My Cord Blood Go to Research or Medical Use?
- Once the cord blood is received, it is evaluated. Victoria Angel has full and unfettered authority to determine if a donated cord blood unit will be delegated for future medical use, scientific research or discarded. Cord blood will not be processed and stored if it does not meet Victoria Angel’s current requirements including, but not limited to:
- Document completion and receipt by VAR before birth
- Cell count meets established criteria
- Medical test results meet required standards/regulations
- Cord blood received free of packaging errors
- Time from cord blood collection to processing does no exceed 48 hours.
- Victoria Angel’s program may restrict collection days/times at specific hospitals. If restrictions exist at your hospital, it will be clearly identified in, or on, your collection kit. Cord blood units collected outside the specified collection times will be discarded.
- Medical tests will be performed on both the mother’s blood and the cord blood. Results of these tests may preclude storage. Tests will include: blood type, tissue typing, and screening for Hepatitis B and C, HIV, HTLVI/II Syphilis, Cytomegalovirus, West Nile Virus and bacteria/fungi. Future medical and genetic testing may be performed on retained samples from the mother and the cord blood. If any unexpected blood test results are found, our staff will notify the mother. In some instances, Victoria Angel may be required by law to inform the Ontario Public Health Department or relevant health care providers (i.e. mother’s physician).
Q: If Stored, How Will the Cord Blood be used in Medical Treatment?
Stored units will be frozen and tissue-typed. Information about each unit is made available nationally and internationally through a database registry(s). Physicians use this database to find a suitable unit to treat a patient. Identifying information about the mother and baby will not be provided however medical and scientific Information about the cord blood unit may be shared with registries.
Q: How Will the Cord Blood be used in Research?
Cord blood is made available to much-needed research projects. Research studies may be directed toward furthering scientific and medical procedures and applications. Cord blood may also be used to educate, train, validate, measure or improve processing, freezing and storage equipment and methods, cell properties, viability and/or recovery. Cord blood units may be released to research scientists and/or facilities. Prior to release, research scientists are required to provide evidence of institutional research ethics board approval for their research. Research findings may be published.
Q: Will the Cord Blood Be Available to My Family in the Future?
In most cases, cord blood donated to VAR will not be available to the donating family for future use. Less than 10% of donated cord blood units meet VAR’s acceptance criteria for processing and banking. The only way to ensure that cord blood will be available to you in the future is enroll in family cord blood banking.
Q: Are There Any Fees?
Victoria Angel pays the costs of public cord blood banking with the exception of hospital collection fees which are waived by the participating hospital. Parents who donate cord blood do not pay for services nor can they be paid for their baby’s blood.
Q: Can I Change Your Mind?
- Your participation is entirely voluntary. You can withdraw from the program at any time before the cord blood is delivered to the cord blood processing laboratory. There are no costs to you at any time, whether you participate or not. Your decision not to donate will not affect your medical treatment.
- If you do not wish to donate, you can store the cord blood privately in a family bank or discard the cord blood as medical waste.
Q: How is My Privacy Protected?
- No personal information will be on the cord blood unit at the time of release and distribution. Recipients of the cord blood will not be given donor identity or contact information. Medical information regarding the cord blood unit and the health of the donor will be shared with national and international registries as mandated by applicable law and when needed. Confidential information may be shared for review purposes with accrediting agencies, external auditors, and other individuals who may be requested to review information for quality purposes.
- Every unit is given a unique, alpha/numeric identifier, linking the information of the donor to the cord blood unit. This linkage will be maintained indefinitely. Only staff or people associated with Victoria Angel Registry, the cord blood processing lab, medical testing lab, and regulatory/accreditation inspectors may see your information.
- If, in the future, Victoria Angel is no longer able or willing to maintain stored samples, samples may be discarded and/or Victoria Angel may transfer the samples to another organization for storage and/or disposition purposes. In such cases, anonymized records will accompany the samples
Q: What do I Agree to When Donating Cord Blood?
- You agree that your baby’s cord blood will be collected at birth, processed, stored and made available for use by Victoria Angel.
- You agree to provide required and honest health information for yourself and your immediate family. This is done to help us learn about possible complications during your pregnancy or birth that could affect the cord blood’s cells. Your baby’s ethnic background is important because it will help us identify patients with similar backgrounds who are most likely to benefit from the cells.
- You agree to have your blood drawn for testing (applicable to the mother).
- You will relinquish all rights to your baby’s cord blood once it is collected and returned to the laboratory.
- You make this decision on behalf of your child and assume all responsibility for this decision.
- In most cases, the cord blood will not be available to the baby or family in the future.
- The cord blood units that meet required standards will be processed in our laboratory, frozen and stored cryogenically until used or until such time that VAR deems to discontinue storage or indefinitely. A small aliquot sample from the mother’s blood and the cord blood will be stored indefinitely for future testing.
- Not all samples will meet the world-wide standards for medical use. In most public banks, including Victoria Angel Registry, less than 25% of all donated samples are processed and stored; all others are dedicated to research projects and/or discarded.