Alberta Cord Blood Bank (ACBB)
What is an umbilical cord blood bank?It is a special type of tissue bank that collects, processes and freezes blood remaining in the umbilical cord after the birth of a baby.
Why does cord blood need its own bank?Waste umbilical cord blood contains cells called stem cells. These cells are capable of producing blood when transferred into people who need transplantation to treat cancer or blood diseases.
When were these cells discovered?Stem cells were discovered in umbilical cord blood in 1988. The first human transplant of these cells took place in Paris, France in 1989. Over 2000 transplants have been performed world-wide in children.
When was cord blood banking developed?Dr. Paolo Rubenstein opened the first Cord Blood Bank at the New York Blood Center in 1992. Since then, several other Banks have been developed, including the Alberta Cord Blood Bank, which opened in October of 1996.
What is the Alberta Cord Blood Bank?The Alberta Cord Blood Bank is the only public cord blood bank in Canada. It is a not for profit, public storage facility dedicated to the provision of stem cells for transplantation of unrelated patients in treatment centres across Canada.
Are there any conditions under which the bank allows family storage?Yes. If a brother or sister of the donor has a disease potentially treatable by cord blood transplantation. This provision applies only to siblings. It does not apply to parents or other family members. The request must be supported by documentation from a doctor specializing in blood diseases or cancer.
How long can cord blood stem cells be stored?Present technology allows storage for 5 years. However, research is underway to extend this period to 10 years.
Where else are blood forming stem cells found?They are found in the bone marrow and the peripheral blood of human beings.
Is transplantation the only use for cord blood stem cells?No. Transplantation is the first use for these novel cells. The prospects are good that they will be used for gene therapy to convey missing information into the cells of humans.
Who does bone marrow transplantation benefit?Mostly patients with cancers and other blood disorders where the bone marrow fails to produce blood.
Is cord blood a better source of stem cells than bone marrow?In some respects, cord blood is a better option. Because of their immaturity, the stem cells are less likely to attack other cells of the body (graft versus host disease). This reduces the illnesses associated with transplantation and makes the procedure more tolerable for the patient.
Are there advantages to the use of cord blood stem cells in unrelated transplantation?Yes. This source of stem cells is inexhaustible. There is no risk to the infant donor or the mother; graft versus host disease is very minimal; the cells engraft easily even though their numbers are small, meaning cord blood contains a higher number of the right type of cells; and the risk for the transfer of viral diseases to the recipient is markedly reduced.
Are there disadvantages to cord blood transplantation?Yes. The volume of stem cells per donation is small with the potential that not enough cells may be available for use in adults. Only one sample is available for use at any one transplantation. It is not possible to identify unknown disease from the donor samples at this time
Is donation harmful to the mother or the baby?No. Collection does interfere with the delivery process. Cord blood can only be collected after the mother and the infant are safe.
Is permission required to harvest the blood even though it is usually thrown away?Yes. Permission for public storage is required from the mother. It is given by completing the Donor Registration Form and sending it to the Alberta Cord Blood Bank.
Who is eligible to donate cord blood stem cells?Any mother in Canada with a healthy full-term pregnancy and a normal vaginal delivery.
Who is ineligible to donate cord blood stem cells?Families with a proven history of any genetic or blood disorder are ineligible to donate for public storage (see next page for a complete list). Since this is an unrelated public cord blood bank, the highest standards of quality control are imposed to ensure that only safe stem cells are stored in the inventory of the bank.
Is a C-section eligible for collection?No. There is a chance of contaminating the surgical field and infecting the mother.
Are all collections suitable for public storage?No. Due to small volume, contamination, or poor conditions during transportation, some stem cells may not be suitable for public storage.
When should I register with the Bank?Registrations will be accepted by mail or fax until the last week of the eighth month of the pregnancy (32 weeks).
What happens after I am accepted as a donor?
You will be sent a collection kit to be taken to the hospital at the time of delivery. Following the collection, you will be asked to provide two tubes of maternal blood for testing. The ACBB makes all arrangements for the delivery of samples to Edmonton.