Cord blood

Umbilical cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and the placenta after a baby has been delivered. It contains a rich source of stem cells. Until recently, umbilical cord blood was considered medical waste and disposed of together with the placenta and the cord. Currently, it can be collected in order to extract the stem cells which can be stored and later used in treatment.

Umbilical cord blood may one day prove a true blessing which could save your child’s or their sibling’s life. Umbilical cord blood contains a rich source for haematopoietic stem cells which, similarly to bone marrow stem cells, are easy to transplant in order to restore haematopoietic and immune system functioning. Moreover, they have proven to be more effective in comparison to stem cells harvested from adult donors. It has been reported that stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood display an enormous capacity to proliferate i.e. ability to multiply after transplantation. Autologous transplantations (where the donor is the recipient of his/her own harvested stem cells), as well as allogeneic transplants (transplantation between different individuals, e.g. family members), are attributable to this unique property.

Cord blood not only has a rich source of haematopoietic stem cells, which produce different types of blood cells (haematogenic stem cells), but it also contains mesenchymal cells, which produce cell types from other tissues – e.g. nerve, bone, muscle tissue including heart muscle cells.

Collection procedure

The procedure of cord blood collection is simple and quick. It is performed by healthcare professional after umbilical cord separation. It poses no threat to the mother or baby. The blood sample is collected by using a special collection kit.

Collecting the blood, which after birth remains in the foetal placenta and the umbilical cord, otherwise known as the afterbirth, is simple and safe. The procedure consists of inserting a needle into the umbilical vein (after cutting the umbilical cord) and collecting blood from the afterbirth into a special collection kit. The umbilical cord blood is harvested using a straightforward procedure whereby both mother and baby are put at no risk.

Collecting your child’s cord blood is a crucial part of childbirth, however we draw your attention to the fact that the health of both mother and child is of utmost importance throughout delivery, which is why the final decision to collect cord blood ultimately lies with the doctor.

Cord blood harvesting is the only non-invasive technique of obtaining stem cells. This method is also considered less complicated than obtaining stem cells from bone marrow or peripheral blood. In the case of bone marrow, the procedure of harvesting haematopoietic stem cells is achieved through an incision of the iliac crest (whereby the donor is put under general anaesthesia for several hours). The collected specimen is routinely purified in a special cell separator. Since 1989, the described technique has been frequently implemented in paediatric treatments.

Haematopoietic stem cells derived from peripheral blood are collected from the donor’s cubital and femoral veins and extracted from the blood by using a cell separator. The stem cell count in pharmacologically immobilised peripheral blood is extremely low. Beforehand, the donor is required to have intravenous or subcutaneous administration of pharmacological growth factors of appropriate cell lines.  The procedure of stem cell collection from peripheral veins is a both time-consuming and expensive.

Cord blood collection during a Caesarean section

Cord Blood Storage

Stem cells are what remain at the end of cord blood processing. These cells are then transferred to special bags. The bags are placed in special containers where they can be stored until needed. The entire procedure must meet all applicable quality standards.

Stem cells harvested from umbilical cord blood, after being treated with cryoprotective agents (dimethyl sulphoxide and ethylene glycol), can be preserved in liquid nitrogen vapour (at -196°C ) for over 50 years. A procedure similar to that of stem cells derived from bone marrow and peripheral blood. The latest publications written by the President of the American Society of Hematology, Professor H. Broxmeyer, one of the pioneers in cord blood stem cell therapies, gives evidence of cord blood stem cells viable for use after 24 years of storage.

To date, over 1 million umbilical cord blood units have been stored worldwide in private and public blood banks.

FamiCord laboratories store cord blood until required for use.