1. What are cord blood stem cells?

Cord blood is blood that remains in the umbilical cord following the birth of a baby and after the umbilical cord is cut. During pregnancy, the umbilical cord functions as a lifeline between mother and child. After a baby’s delivery, the cord blood present in the umbilical cord could offer hope for the child and maybe members of the family.

Cord blood is a rich source of Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs), which are primarily responsible for replenishing blood and regenerating the immune system. They have the unique ability to differentiate into various cell types found in blood as depicted in the diagram below:

  • Red blood cells – which transport oxygen
  • White blood cells – which produce antibodies and fight bacteria
  • Platelets – which assist blood clotting

2. Why should I save my baby’s cord blood stem cells?

  • A guaranteed match for autologous transplants (where the donor and recipient are the same individual)
  • A readily available supply of stored haematopoietic stem cells. This compares well to having to do a national or international search which is costly and time-consuming in an already time critical situation.
  • Lower risk of Graft vs. Host Disease (GvHD) for autologous transplants, a situation where the transplanted tissue attacks the patient’s own tissue.
  • Ease of collection, which is pain-free and risk-free to both mother and child.
  • Umbilical cord blood stem cells are younger, have a higher rate of engraftment and are more tolerant to tissue mismatches, compared to other types of stem cells, e.g. bone marrow.

3. What does cord blood stem cells do?

  • Replace and regenerate damaged or diseased bone marrow
  • Treatment for blood cancers
  • Correct genetic defects (sibling/allogeneic transplantation)
  • Potential for cellular therapy and regenerative medicine

4. How does a stem cell transplant work?

  • Stem cell rescue reconstitutes a patient’s blood and immune system
  • This is carried out after chemotherapy and radiotherapy which destroy blood cells
  • Stem cells are infused intravenously into the patient’s blood stream
  • Once in the blood stream, they migrate to the bone marrow
  • They then differentiate into three blood cell types – red, white and platelets
  • The differentiation initiates the regeneration of the patient’s blood and immune system

5. What are some of the diseases treated by stem cells?

The list of diseases treated by stem cells can be found here.

6. How is my baby’s cord blood collected by my OBGYN?

Immediately after the delivery of your baby, the cord is clamped and your baby separated from the cord and moved from the birthing area. The doctor then collects the umbilical cord blood by inserting a needle into the cord vein, and draining the blood into a blood bag.

This procedure is painless and risk-free to both you and your baby. It takes about 3 minutes and does not alter the birthing process in any way. It can be done with either a vaginal or caesarean delivery.

Please note that the final decision of whether the cord blood collection should take place will always reside with your caregiver whose first priority is the safety of you and your baby.

7. What happens after my baby’s cord blood has been collected?

Stem cell isolation is a critical step in cord blood banking. It affects the number of stem cells that can be harvested or recovered from the cord blood. Cell recovery rates are critical because a higher number of stem cells could enhance the success of the transplant or treatment. That's why Cordlife has invested in the Sepax® automated stem cell processing technology, a safe, sterile and fully automated cord blood processing technology – so you get more stem cells for maximum transplant success˄.

The first private cord blood bank in Singapore that offers Sepax® automated processing technology, this Swiss-made and U.S. FDA-cleared device can recover as high as 99%1 of Total Nucleated Cells (TNC) from cord blood; up to 57%2 cell count higher than other processing methods. It is also a functionally closed processing system which ensures the sterility of the cord blood by eliminating exposure to air contaminants.

References

  1. Cordlife umbilical cord blood processing data as at 31 December 2010
  2. Valeri et al., Transfusion 1996; 36: 303-8.

8. How is my baby’s cord blood stored?

Cordlife uses the U.S. FDA approved cryogenic storage pouch. This multi-compartmentalised cryobag has 20% and 80% compartments. This cryobag also has 2 integrally attached segments which are in compliance with AABB and FACT-Netcord standards. This dual compartment addresses the stem cell expansion programmes in future. That means that when this stem cell expansion technology is commercially viable, you can withdraw 80% of the stem cells for immediate use /treatment while continuing to store the 20% balance for later expansion.

The integral segments also provide the safety and assurance that additional product testing is performed on the associated unit thereby eliminating testing and cord blood unit mix ups. This is to allow for additional testing of the sample should it be required in the future, or for viability testing prior to a transplant. This storage pouch is made of a special material designed specifically to withstand cryogenic temperatures.

Your baby’s cord blood is stored in vacuum insulated cryogenic storage tanks, and are designed to remain at optimal cryogenic temperature of below -150° for cell storage over long periods. Cordlife uses MVE Anti-contamination Vapour-phase Liquid Nitrogen Storage System for long-term stem cell cryopreservation.

Vapour-phase storage is preferred over liquid-phase storage1 as it eliminates the chance of cross contamination between cord blood units as compared with those stored in liquid nitrogen.

The MVE Anti-contamination Vapour-phase Liquid Nitrogen Storage System operates perfectly, even without electrical supply, and is 100% reliable and failsafe with no chance of robotic malfunction. Unlike other storage systems available in the market today, our tanks have never been recalled by the U.S. FDA or the manufacturer.

Over 99% of private cord blood banks also use only vapour-phase freezers. Presently, the majority of stem cell transplantations used cord blood units stored in vapour freezers.

Reference:

  1. Best practices for Repositories I: Collection, Storage, and Retrieval of Human Biological Materials for Research


9. How long can my baby’s cord blood stem cells be stored?

Theoretically, the shelf-life of cells stored at liquid nitrogen temperatures has been estimated to be of 1,000 years1.

In recent studies, it is found that there is efficient recovery from  cord blood stem cells cryopreserved up to 21-23.5years2.

Reference:

  1. Jens O.M. Karlsson, Mehmet Toner, Long-term storage of tissues by cryopreservation: critical issues. Biomaterials 17 (1996) 243-256.
  2. Hal E. Broxmeyer, Man-Ryul Lee, Giao Hangoc, et. al., Hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, generation of induced pluripotent stem cells, and isolation of endothelial progenitors from 21- to 23.5- year cryopreserved cord blood. Blood 2011 117:4773-4777. Doi:10.1182/blood-2011-01-330514

10. Can I store my baby’s cord blood if my blood sample is tested positive for Hepatitis B?

You may still continue to store your baby's cord blood (with additional consent given to Cordlife), or elect to discard the umbilical cord blood unit.

This is because Cordlife conducts two different tests for Hepatitis B virus (HBV) on maternal blood, namely:

  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg)
  • Hepatitis B Core Antibody (Anti-HBc (Total))

Usually, the attending transplant physician will make the decision whether to use a cord blood unit where the maternal blood was tested positive for Hepatitis B for transplant, based on various factors particular to the patient, the cord blood unit intended for use, and the availability of other HLA-matched donor.

11. Is Cordlife licensed to operate such a storage facility?

Cordlife Singapore’s processing and storage facility is AABB-accredited and MOH-licensed. This ensures that Cordlife adheres to the highest standards for private cord blood banking.

12. How much does it cost to save my baby’s cord blood?

Kindly click here to find out more on our price plans. Alternatively, please call us at our 24-Hour Hotline (65) 6238 0808 or email info@cordlife.com for our latest savings plans.

13. How do I enrol?

Contact us at our 24-Hour Hotline (65) 6238 0808 to make an appointment with our Cord Blood Banking Consultant.

* If you are due within the next 4 - 6 weeks, we strongly recommend you to contact us immediately for enrolment because this will ensure all necessary steps are completed before your baby's arrival.

14. What is Cordlife Care360° Safeguard Programme?

Cordlife Care360° Safeguard Programme is a wholistic protection specially crafted to ensure you and you and your child that added peace of mind. The Care360° Safeguard programme allows you and your family to enjoy:

Cordlife Max:360°
Maximise with Sepax® Automated Processing Technology
Cordlife uses Sepax® automated stem cell processing system to facilitate optimal stem cell recovery from your baby’s cord blood – so you get more stem cells for maximum transplant success^.

Cordlife Shield:360°
Tender Loving Care for You and Your Family
Cordlife provides the coverage of possible pregnancy and childbirth complications^, so that you and your family can have an added peace of mind.

Cordlife Protect:360°
Freedom for You and Your Family
Cordlife, together with an international insurer, will waive off your child’s future storage payments if you or your spouse passes away or suffers from Total and Permanent Disability (TPD)*. Depending on the payment plan you elected, your family may also receive a token fund*.

Cordlife Pledge:360°
Our Pledge to Quality Processing and Storage Standards
Cordlife assures you of a cord blood unit of suitable match or US$25,000 to defray medical costs if the cord blood unit loses its viability at point of transplant˄.

Cordlife Assure:360°
Assurance Tests prior to a HSC Transplant
Cordlife will cover the cost for matching (HLA resolution test) and viability (CFU Assay) prior to the Haematopoietic Stem Cell (HSC) transplant*. This is Cordlife’s assurance to be with you if there is a need for the release of your child’s cord blood.

Cordlife Guard:360°
Safeguarding You and Your Family
Cordlife has taken added insurance coverage, to safeguard you and your family from  financial loss that results from direct malpractice*.

˄Conditions apply.

*Applicable for enrolment with Cordlife Group Limited from 7 September 2011 onwards. Kindly note that the above mentioned is general information only. Please refer to the Cordlife Service Agreement for full details and its terms and conditions. Cordlife Group Limited reserves the rights to amend or cancel any of the benefits listed above without prior notice. International quality standards may differ between the time of enrolment and time of release of your baby’s cord blood unit for transplant. All reasonable efforts will be made to adhere to the prevailing standards at the time of release of your baby’s cord blood unit. HLA testing and CFU Assay may or may not cease to become a mandatory quality check.

15. I am delivering overseas but storing with Cordlife Singapore. Am I eligible for the benefits of Cordlife Care360° Safeguard Programme?

Cordlife Care 360° Safeguard Programme is only applicable to Singapore deliveries only.

16. I am delivering in Singapore and storing my baby’s cord blood with Cordlife Singapore. However, I’ll be returning back to my country after my delivery. Am I eligible for the benefits of Cordlife Care360° Safeguard Programme?

We are pleased to inform that Cordlife Care 360° Safeguard applies to all Singapore deliveries.

17. I am an existing Cordlife Parent. Will the benefits of Cordlife Care360° Safeguard Programme be extended to my current account(s)?

At this moment, only clients who enrol with Cordlife from 7 September 2011 can enjoy the benefits of Cordlife Care 360° Safeguard Programme.

18. Will the benefits be extended to the adoptive parents?

Once the adoptive parents receive the letter of the adoption for the child, they are will be covered under Cordlife Care 360° Safeguard Programme.

19. My husband and/or I have an existing health condition. Am I still eligible for the benefits, in particularly for Protect:360°?

If at the point of enrolment with Cordlife, there is a pre-existing health condition of Stage 4 cancer, the coverage from Protect:360° will only take effect from the child’s 2nd birthday. Kindly note that our international insurer will conduct investigations prior to any claims disbursement.

20. What is an example of an “approved HSCT”?

Our HLA tests are performed by Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

21. Who performs the CFU Assay?

Our CFU testing will be performed by Singapore Cord Blood Bank (SCBB). They are the only one in Singapore whom performs CFU Assay.

22. How do I claim for the token fund under the Cordlife Protect:360° benefit?

The death certificate must be submitted to Cordlife in the event of death of either biological parent. Cordlife will then determine the token sum pay-out based on terms and conditions prevailing then.

23. What if both my husband and I met with a fatal accident? What kind of pay-out will my child receive?

The coverage is only for one biological parent; hence the pay-out will only be based on one death.

24. In the event that I (biological mother) pass on due to child birth, and cord blood has been collected. Will my husband still be eligible for Cordlife Protect:360°?

Yes, as long as all required documents have been signed, your husband will be covered under Cordlife Protect:360.

25. Will you inform us if the benefits have been changed or revoked?

Cordlife reserves the right to change the terms and conditions of Cordlife 360°. Parents will be informed should there be any changes.

26. I have enrolled after 7 September 2011 for my first child. In the event that I enrol my second child with Cordlife in the future, will we be covered under our 2nd account with Cordlife as well?

Yes you will. Both your accounts will be covered under the Cordlife Care360Safeguard Programme.

27. What happens in the event of a divorce?

In the event of a divorce case, only the legal custodian will be covered under this programme.

28. What is Child Development Account (CDA)?

The CDA is a special savings account that you open at any OCBC Bank or Standard Chartered Bank branch for your child who is eligible for CDA. You can save in the CDA any time until 31 December in the year your child turns 6 years of age.

29. How does the Child Development Account (CDA) work?

The savings will be matched up to the cap of $6,000 each for the first and second child, $12,000 each for the third and fourth child and $18,000 each for the fifth and subsequent child. The Government will match your savings in the following month.

30. Who is eligible for Child Development Account (CDA)?

A child is eligible if he or she is:

  • born on or after 17 Aug 2008
  • a Singapore Citizen;
  • The first child and each child beyond the fourth; and

The mother is lawfully married to the child's father.

31. Why should I choose to use CDA to pay for my child’s cord blood banking service?

The advantages of using your baby's CDA to pay for Cordlife's service are:

  • You can make use of the CDA to make payment for your initial one-time enrolment fee as well as subsequent annual fees till your child turns 7/12 years old*
  • As half of the cord blood banking fee that you are paying can be subsidised by the Government via CDA, it is therefore, as good as enjoying a 50% savings for our service.

*Terms and conditions apply.

32. What should I do if I want to use CDA to pay for my child’s cord blood banking service?

Upon enrolment with Cordlife, please indicate your option to pay via your CDA. You will be provided with an application form to sign up either with:

In addition, we will require you to fill up an Authorisation Letter to authorise Cordlife to deduct payment from your CDA.

This is done only once for the same CDA. You need not submit the application to us for your next subsequent billing.

33. What are the required documents I need to provide when I submit my inter-bank Giro Application?

You will be required to submit a copy of your child's birth certificate, as well as provide the Trustee's name and CDA account number to Cordlife.

34. Do I need to make any payment for the storing of my baby’s cord blood prior to the approval of my application for inter-bank GIRO?

No, you are not required to pay upon enrolment. However, we will request for your credit card details upon enrolment. In the event that your CDA application is not approved by the bank two (2) months from the actual date of your delivery, Cordlife will bill the fees payable from this credit card provided.

35. Is there a limit on the amount that I can spend for my child’s cord blood banking service using CDA?

No, there is no limit. You can use CDA up to the amount capped by the savings matched by the Government.

The savings is capped at $6,000 each for the first and second child, $12,000 each for the third and fourth child and $18,000 each for the fifth and subsequent child. The Government will match your savings in the following month.

As such, you may choose to pre-pay the full 21 years of storage using your CDA.

36. How long can I make use of the savings in CDA?

You can utilise the savings in CDA till the day before your child's seventh/twelfth birthday.

37. I am one of your existing clients. Can I use CDA to pay for subsequent annual fees?

Yes, you may. You may choose to an account with either OCBC or Standard Chartered Bank.

Kindly download and fill up the following CDA application form:

In addition, you will be required to fill up an Authorisation Letter to authorise Cordlife to deduct payment from your CDA. Please send both completed and signed original forms back to Cordlife, at the following address for processing.

Cordlife Group Limited
Finance Department (CDA Payment)
1 Yishun Industrial Street 1
A'Posh Bizhub
#06-01/09
Singapore 768160

38. Can I use my child’s CDA to pay for his/her sibling’s cord blood banking service?

Yes, you can use your child's CDA to pay for his/her sibling's cord blood banking service. Kindly provide the birth certificate of his/her sibling for verification.

39. What do I need to do if I wish to terminate my inter-bank GIRO for CDA with Cordlife?

If you wish to terminate the inter-bank GIRO for CDA with us, please submit the below form to the bank that you have an account with and inform Cordlife at 6238 00808 or email customercare@cordlife.com of the termination.

40. Where can I download the inter-bank GIRO and Authorisation Form for CDA with Cordlife?

41. What is Cordlife Preferential Plan?

Cordlife introduces the Preferential Plan as a gesture of our appreciation to our Cordlife Parents. Under this plan, you can enjoy up to S$750.00 savings when you prepay the balance for your child’s annual fees.

For your convenience, we offer the option of multiple payment modes including the use of your child’s Children Development Account (CDA) for the one-time payment.

42. How would Preferential Plan benefit a Cordlife Parent like me?

Cordlife Preferential Plan lets you enjoy:

  • Savings of up to SGD $750.00
  • Protection against increases in Annual Instalment Fees
  • Protection against hikes in Goods and Services  Tax (GST)
  • The convenience of a one-time payment  for the remaining balance of annual instalment fees
  • Multiple payment modes such as Child Development Account (CDA), credit card interest-free instalment plans & etc

43. What is my balance amount for payment with Cordlife?

In general, it is tabulated as S$250 (subject to prevailing GST) per year, multiplied by the outstanding number of years till your child turns 21 years old. Please email us at preferential@cordlife.com or call us at 6238 0808 to check your latest balance.

44. I have just received this Preferential Plan Invitation Letter. What should I do next?

You may email us at preferential@cordlife.com or call us at 6238 0808 to inform us on your wish to proceed with the Preferential Plan and the latest balance amount will be presented to you.

Alternatively, the Change of Plan form can be downloaded here. Our Cordlife Customer Relations Consultant will contact you within 3 working days once we have received the completed form.

Please mail the completed original Change of Plan form to:

Cordlife Group Limited
Customer Relations (Preferential Plan)
1 Yishun Industrial Street 1
A'Posh Bizhub
#06-01/09
Singapore 768160

45. What are the available modes of payment?

You can opt for the following:

  • Cheque payment
  • One-time Credit Card payment (Masters or Visa Only)
  • OCBC, UOB & DBS Credit Card with interest-free instalments up to 24-months  (Masters or Visa Only)
  • CitiBank Credit Card with interest-free instalments for 12-months (Masters or Visa Only)
  • Children Development Account (CDA)

(Kindly note that clients choosing either the UOB or Citibank instalment plans will have to visit our office for payment processing. We are able to mail out the bank forms for OCBC/DBS instalment payment plans for completion.)

46. What happens after the full 21-years of storage?

The ownership of the cord blood will be transferred over to your child once he/she reaches the legal adult age of 21 years and upon the renewing the agreement. Your child will be prompted to continue storage thereafter at the prevailing fees.

47. What happens after payment for the Preferential Plan is completed?

Once the payment has been completed, Cordlife will send a confirmation letter to you. This letter confirms that the obligations, terms and conditions remain as per the original Service Agreement you signed with us. This letter also reiterates your revised refund policy.

48. What if I elect for Cordlife Preferential Plan and then terminate the Service Agreement before the full 21 years?

In the event that that the Agreement you signed is prematurely terminated for valid reasons before the entire contractual period of 21 years (for example: transplant’s use), Cordlife will accord a pro-rated refund at nominal value.

49. What happens if Cordlife ceases operations?

The continuation of storage of your child’s umbilical cord blood stem cells is of utmost importance to us. In the unlikely event that Cordlife ceases its operations, Cordlife may assign its rights under the Agreement to another provider of cord blood banking storage facilities as long as that provider meets the necessary standards at the relevant time for licensing with the Ministry of Health (MOH), Singapore or of a comparable standard outside of Singapore.