Frequently asked questions
Vita 34 receives and answers questions on telephone or e-mail every day. We have gathered some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the collection and storage of stem cells from then umbilical cord and cord blood.
If you have any other qustions, do not hesitate to contact Vita 34 customer service on telephone (weekdays from 9 am – 3 pm) or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Question: How does my child benefit from me storing its umbilical cord blood?
Stem cells from the umbilical cord blood and tissue represents an additional treatment option for your child or siblings should they ever need it – a new kind of precautionary option for parents and children. Umbilical stem cells have a great potential in the treatment of disease that can occur throughout life. Currently, the treatment of age-related diseases like heart attack, stroke, arteriosclerosis and diabetes is currently being examined. When storing the stem cells for your child’s birth you will know that they are available, if your child needs them and keep this treatment option open for him or her – regardless of his or her age.
Question: How does my child benefit from me storing its umbilical cord blood?
For parents and children, umbilical cord blood yields a new kind of precautionary option. The treatment of age-related diseases like heart attack, stroke, arteriosclerosis, or diabetes is currently being examined in studies. If you store the stem cells for your child, you know that they are available, when your child needs them and keep this option open for him or her – regardless of his or her age.
Question: If umbilical cord blood is so valuable, why is everyone not storing it?
Even today a lot of people not informed about the potential of umbilical stem cells – or of the opportunity to have them collected at the child’s birth. One of the reasons is surely that is changes between countries whether or not collection is offered in the public sector. Therefore the information to expecting parents is varying.
Question: Can parents and siblings benefit from the stem cells?
In general, yes. One of the advantages of umbilical stem cells is that they can be used for treatment of others. It is crucial that there is a match in tissue characteristics between donor and recipient to avoid dangerous rejection reactions – similar to organ donation. The probability that the umbilical cord blood matches the parents unfortunately is only about one percent. The chances of matching with a sibling are very good, around 25 %. As a result, you as a family will have the opportunity to avoid critical wait time in the public donor register. In case it is needed, Vita 34 can determine the necessary tissue characteristics.
Question: My midwife has reservations concerning the subject of umbilical cord blood. Why is that?
In direct contact with midwifes, Vita 34 has found that midwifes in general are not skeptical towards the collection of umbilical stem cells, but there is a lack of knowledge on the subject. Actually, midwifes are very eager for comprehensive and detailed information. Should you have the impression that your midwife wants to know more, we would be happy to send her the literature or invite her to an information event with stem cell experts. Contact our customer service for dates of upcoming events.
Question: Have stem cells from umbilical cord blood already been applied?
Yes, indeed! About 4.5 million umbilical cord blood units have been prepared for long-term storage on the grounds of parents’ initiative. More than 1,100 units have been given for treatment: over 100 of these in Europe – 37 of which were previously stored at Vita 34, and therefore we are experienced in release of stem cell samples. After application, doctors all over the world have confirmed the quality of our stem cell samples. In Japan and the USA, who are leading in the field of umbilical cord blood worldwide, umbilical cord blood is already used more often than bone marrow. Examples of diseases treated are cancer and metabolic diseases as well as brain injuries.
Question: Why are your own stem cells the first choice?
Your body shows an optimal tolerance to your own stem cells (autologous) and new cells produced from them. Foreign stem cells (allogenic) have different tissue characteristics and therefore often cause rejections. As long as the treatment permits, autologous stem cells are preferred. An exception is the treatment of leukemia, where autologous stem cells can not be used, since there is a risk of the leukemia already being encoded in the cells. A suitable donor from the family is preferred, as this bears the greatest chance of matching tissue characteristics. If you have stored stem cells from a sibling, these would have a great chance of being a match, and you could therefore possibly avoid wait time in the public donor register.
Question: What can the umbilical cord blood do that the bone marrow cannot?
The therapeutic success depends crucially on the age of the stem cells. The younger the stem cells are, the more they can do. Latest examinations even show that certain age-related diseases like arteriosclerosis occur only when the stem cells of the affected persons are too old to repair the damage themselves. Because that is a fact, people aged between 18 and 45 years are preferred to donate bone marrow. The stem cells collected at birth are at a very young stage and they have not yet been influenced by the environment outside the womb, which gives them great potential in medical treatment.
Question: Are there any risks associated with the collection of umbilical stem cells?
No quite the contrary. It is exactly the simple, painless and risk-free collection that makes the umbilical cord and cord blood such an interesting source of stem cells. After your baby is born and the umbilical cord has been cut, the blood is extracted from the piece of umbilical cord that is still connected to the placenta – mother and child do not feel anything in the process.
Question: What are the requirements for collecting stem cells from the umbilical cord?
Vita 34 employs and educates personnel in the collection process in the Nordic countries. All of our collectors are continuously trained by our midwife in charge of our Hotline. Vita 34 has collectors in all of Denmark and large areas of Sweden and Norway. Call our customer service for information on the possibility of collection at your place of birth. Storage of umbilical cord stem cells is regulated by the Danish Tissue Act governed by the Danish authorities. Vita 34 has a permit as a tissue establishment issued by the authorities, which allows for storage of stem cells.
Question: What happens if my child needs stem cells?
Vita 34 has its own laboratory that receives and freezes stem cells from several countries. Our laboratory is open every day and has a reliable courier available around-the-clock. When time is of the essence, we can transport the stem cells within 96 hours to any hospital in the world – of course after the umbilical cord blood has undergone comprehensive testing. However, in most of the cases where stem cells from Vita 34 have been applied so far, we were in touch with the parents and the treating physicians for several months before the date of the stem cell transplantation was scheduled.
Question: Are the stem cells sufficient for treatment, when my child has grown up?
In general, adults can be treated with umbilical cord stem cells also. Worldwide, every third application of umbilical cord blood was to adults. After the collection of umbilical cord blood, the total cell number is determined exactly. And even if this is not optimal for the body weight of an adult, the prospects of successful treatment are good, because modern procedures enable the proliferation of stem cells. These methods are currently being clinically tried and tested, but when your child has grown up, they should long be routine.
Questions: Who are the people behind Vita 34?
Vita 34 was founded by physicians and is managed by physicians. In addition, biologists, chemists, biochemists, midwifes and laboratory experts work at Vita 34 – all with the same goal of ensuring the highest quality and maximum safety.
Question: What are Vita 34’s experiences?
Vita 34 was founded in 1997 and is therefore most experienced in the field of stem cell storage in Germany. Almost 215,000 stem cell collections have already been prepared at our laboratory and are stored at our facilities. Vita 34 developed many of the methods and procedures that are standard these days in Germany. Until the end of 2016 Vita 34 has released 37 stem cell samples for treatment.
Question: What is the meaning of the name “Vita 34”?
“Vita” is the Latin word for “life”. The number 34 stands for the surface molecule CD34, which characterizes hematopoietic stem cells. Our name symbolizes the responsibility of company and personnel. It stands for the safe storage of stem cells of top quality and thus for the protection of life.