Friday, June 5, 2015

Stemcord Vs. Cordlife: Which Cord Blood Baking Company is for You?

I already made a blog regarding cord blood banking in one of our other blog site and I'd like to re-post it here so that more people could learn from our interview. Please take note though that the presentations of the Cord Blood Banks were done last 2014. Please do message us if some of the details has already changed so that we could update our post for the benefit of other parents too.

Last March 8, 2014, we were able to talk to one of the representatives of Stemcord and last March 12, 2014 we also scheduled a meetup with one of the representatives from Cordlife. Here are a few things we have learned from them about cord blood banking and their respective companies. These things are stuff that you might want to consider when choosing which company will be banking your child’s cord blood.
1. Cordblood Facility Accreditation
According to the Stemcord representative, in order for the cord blood to be transported anywhere around the world, thefacility where your child’s cord blood is stored should be either FACT Netcord Accredited or AABB Accredited. In the case of Stemcord Phils, their only storage facility is in Sinagpore and they are FACT Net-Cord Accredited so you can have the cordblood transported anywhere around the world in the future if there is a need for transplant.
In the case of CordLife, their facilities in Singapore and HongKong are both AABB Accredited (based on brochures). According to the Cordlife personnel that we have spoken with, in order to apply for the accreditation in their facility here in the Philippines, they need to be operating for at least 5 years. However, as per Cordlife representative, they can transport your baby’s cordblood wherever across the globe even though you stored them in the Philippines because their affiliates in the other countries are AABB Accredited.

We did extra research though and on the website of AABB it said there that you only need to operate for 6 months and you can already apply for the said accreditation: (Not too sure if they are referring to another set of criteria.)

2. Cordblood Storage Location
Stemcord stores your cordblood in 2 locations in Singapore. This is because they want to make sure that if anything happens to one of their facilities, you are secured that your child’s cord blood has a backup on the other storage facility.

As for Cordlife, you can bank your child’s cordblood in one location. You have the option to store them in the following countries: Singapore, Hong Kong, or Philippines (UP-AyalaLand Technohub).

3. Storage Packs of Cord Blood Units
Because Stemcord’s standard packing procedure for cord blood is stored in 2 separate locations, they are packed separately in 2 cryo-units which enables you to retrieve one pack when the need arises (assuming that this one pack is enough for a transplant) and the other serves as your backup when a separate need arises in the future. The separation is 15ml and 15ml or 50%-50%

Stemcord's final packing after cord blood processing
Cordlife on the other hand stores cord blood on an 80%-20% basis. The 80% contains about 25ml and the remaining 20% is kept for future stemcell expansion.
4. Cordblood Storage and Collection Fees
Here are a few things you may need to know regarding the fees that you will be paying:
For Stemcord:
* When you decide to cancel your enrollment (after 7 days of singing-up with them and before you give birth), they will charge an admin fee + GST and the remaining amount will be refunded to you
* In the event (when mommy gives birth) and no cord blood is collected, a refund will be given less admin fee of Php 5,500.00 + GST.
For Cordlife:
* When you decide to cancel enrollment (before you give birth), Php 3,000.00 + VAT shall NOT be refunded and the remaining balances paid will be refunded.
*  In the event (when mommy gives birth) and the volume of cord blood collected is less than 15ml, the company will notify you whether you wish to continue preserving the cord blood. If you do not wish to continue with the processing of the cord blood, the contract will be terminated and you will be given a full-refund of all the fees you have paid.
5. Cordblood Facility Site Visit
Stemcord: You need to inform them 2 weeks before you will be heading out to Singapore as Stemcord Phils will need to coordinate your visit with Singapore.
Cordlife: Not too sure of their Singapore and Hong Kong facilities but you can dropby their UP-AyalaLand Technohub to check their facility here in the Philippines.
6. Cordblood Courier
For Stemcord, they are currently have a tie-up with FedEx.
For Cordlife, as per representative, they bring it straight to the airport and then it joins the next flight to Singapore.
7. Cordblood Collection Procedure
For Stemcord, you can call their hotlines once you are ON YOUR WAY TO HOSPITAL, they will be assisting the OB-Gyne inside the delivery room in getting the blood from the umbilical cord. For those who are very particular, this is actually a plus factor as Stemcord staff are actually registered nurses so they are really familiar with hospital procedures and handling. After this, they will be the ones to coordinate with the courier company for it to be shipped out for processing and storage in their Singapore facility.
For Cordlife, you will only call them AFTER delivery as the cord blood is to be picked up by their representatives within 24 hours after the baby is delivered. If you will be storing the cord blood locally, they will be the ones to bring it to their facility and process the cord blood. For those who opted for international storage, cord blood will be brought to the airport for the next flight out of Ph.
8. Maternal Blood Sample Testing
Maternal samples to test for viruses and other blood infections
For Stemcord, this is done in Singapore so maternal blood samples are shipped out with the cord blood.
For Cordlife, if stored locally, Hi-Precision diagnostics is the company authorized to do this blood testing. For international storage, this flies out together with the cord blood.
9. Additional Coverage (or services) provided when you sign-up
Please note that all these additional covers have their terms and conditions so its always better to check their contract or speak with the company’s representatives for further clarifications and concerns.

For Stemcord, here are the additional perks that they give you:
a. Care21 – in cases where either one of the biological parents passes away, Stemcord will continue to store the cord blood of the child until he/she reaches the age of 21.
b. Quality Plus – ensures that there is a SGD 25,000.00 payout if the stem cells stored by Stemcord has failed to engraft
c. Assured Plus – confirmatory HLA testing on the cord blood units when the transplant is requested. There is no charge for this test if the person who will be undergoing transplant is the baby who owns the cord blood.
d. Transplant Medicare – if the cord blood (processed and stored by Stemcord) will be used in a stem cell transplant in Sinagpore that is approved by the MOH and Stemcord’s Medical Directors as standard medical practice, the company will pay SGD 50,000.00 to partially cover the medical costs.
For Cordlife, here are the additional insurance that you get when you bank your child’s cord blood with them:
a.  Secure – in the event that the local facility is limited due to flood, the company will make efforts so that your baby’s cord blood will be sent to their facility abroad (Singapore or Hong Kong). All the costs, will be absorbed by the company.
b. Guard – intended to provide coverage against financial loss due to direct malpractice.
c. Pledge – if, at the point of the transplant, the cord blood loses its viability, the company assures you of a cord blood unit of a suitable match or USD 25,000.00 to defray medical costs.
d. Assure – the company will fully cover the cost of HLA testing in the event that the cord blood release is needed for stem cell transplant.
10. How Long will One pay for Storage Fees?
Once you register with either of the Cord Blood Banks, the ownership will be with the mother. Depending on the country’s legal age, ownership will then be transferred to the child. Because Stemcord’s storage is in Singapore, the legal age is until 21 and for Cordlife, if you will store it in Singapore, same case but if you will store it in Philippines, the ownership will be transferred to the child upon reaching 18.
In the current scenario, the annual storage costs of both blood banks is only shown until reaching their legal age and according to both representatives, new costs will be computed when the contract expires (child reaches legal age) and a new contract will be signed – it is your option whether or not to continue the storage of your child’s cordblood.
Another important thing, I randomly asked the Stemcord representative about the Unang Yakap procedure (if it had conflicts with cordblood collection procedure) and she honestly said “Yes” without hesitation. She actually explained further why these two procedures had conflicts – let me give you a brief background first on how Unang Yakap procedure is being done and it involves four basic steps:
1. Immediate drying of newborn using a cloth.
2. Placing the baby on top of the mom for uninterrupted skin to skin contact – to enable the baby to develop immunity based on the antibodies that mommy has
3. Delayed cord clamping – in order for babies to reduce the chances of having anemia
4. Non-separation of mommy and baby to initiate early breastfeeding
The conflict arises on the 3rd step because banking procedures require that immediate clamping and collection of the blood in the umbilical cord otherwise there will not be enough quantity of blood to be stored for banking.
We hope we are able to enlighten you on these matters. In the end, no matter which private blood bank you choose, parents still hope that they will not be needing these cord blood cells in the long run. Of course it is always best to maintain a healthy lifestyle for the entire family as early as now, better be healthy as prevention is always better than cure.

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