Sydney Cord Blood Bank
The Sydney Cord Blood Bank (SCBB) was established at the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick in 1995 and forms part of a national network of cord blood banks sited in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The network collects and banks cord blood from voluntary donors for anonymous use by patients needing a stem cell transplant.
The Sydney Cord Blood Bank is licensed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and accredited by the Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) to ensure the quality, safety and security of the cord blood units.
- Ph: (02) 9382-0371
- Fax: (02) 9382-0372
- Email the Sydney Cord Blood bank
The blood bank is located on Level 3, Clinical Sciences Building. Prince of Wales Hospital, High Street, Randwick.
Cord Blood Collection Centres
The Sydney Cord Blood Bank has collection centres and the following maternity hospitals:
- Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick
- Prince of Wales Private Hospital, Randwick
- Royal Prince Alfred Women and Babies, Camperdown (temporarily not collecting)
Donating mothers need to provide informed consent and agree to donate a blood sample (taken from the mother) for infectious disease screening around the time of delivery. Mothers also have to complete a health and travel history questionnaire to screen for infections such as Hepatitis and HIV, and for the risk of transmitting genetic disorders. Mothers with a history of infection or genetic blood disorders are therefore excluded from donating cord blood. The baby's and mother's health is monitored via follow-up contact (via phone or e-mail) around 6 months after donation. All the information provided remains confidential.
Collected cord blood units are processed to reduce their volume, frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen vapour at or below minus 150°C. The cord blood is identified with a unique identification number and the donor remains anonymous.
The SCBB has banked over 17,000 cord blood units. For cord blood units that meet strict acceptance criteria, the tissue typing of the cord blood is listed and available for searching worldwide through the World Marrow Donor Association.
What is cord blood and how is it used?
Cord Blood is the blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta after delivery of the baby and after the umbilical cord is cut. Cord blood provides the baby with nutrition while in the womb, but after the birth it is normally discarded. It is collected from the umbilical cord vein in an average volume of about 100mL. The collection is performed without disturbing the normal delivery practice and is therefore not harmful to the mother and baby.
The cord blood is rich in blood stem cells, which are the building blocks for blood cells. They are normally found in the bone marrow, which can perpetually produce the blood cells found in the circulating blood (white cells, red blood cells and platelets). Cord blood can be frozen and stored for over 20 years without loss of potency to the blood stem cells. Cord blood is therefore an alternative source of blood stem cells to bone marrow.
Bone marrow transplantation is a curative treatment for diseases such as leukaemia, lymphoma, immune deficiency, aplastic anaemia and thalassaemia. Bone marrow donors have to be rigorously matched with the patient with respect to the tissue type of their white blood cells (the equivalent to ABO blood groups on red blood cells). Only about a third of the patients needing a bone marrow transplant can find a suitable compatible donor within their family. Cord blood stem cells do not need such rigorous matching, making cord blood a versatile option for stem cell transplant.
During the past 25 years, over 30,000 cord blood transplants have been undertaken in both children and adults. Initially cord blood transplants were performed for paediatric patients where there was no compatible bone marrow donor. Now, over 25 years later, and with increasing experience, it is clear that cord blood transplantation is a viable alternative to bone marrow in adult and paediatric patients.
Cord blood transplantation is a curative treatment for diseases such as:
- Immune deficiency
- Acute and chronic leukaemias
- Haematological malignancies
- Aplastic and Fanconi Anaemia
- Metabolic Storage diseases
Cord blood transplantation is being explored as a treatment for other diseases. Consult your physician for additional information.
How to donate cord blood
Donating your cord blood freely to an anonymous patient is a priceless gift because it may be the only life-saving treatment for a child or adult with a potentially fatal illness. By donating your baby's cord blood, "Life can begin twice!"
Donating your cord blood is a very simple and harmless procedure. Every step is taken to ensure the quality and safety of the cord blood. The Sydney Cord Blood Bank relies on the cooperation of new mothers to provide medical information to assess the risk of infection or transmission of genetic disorders, and to have a blood test to screen for infectious diseases. You will need to be at least 36 weeks into your pregnancy and not have a multiple pregnancy (e.g. twins).
If you are giving birth at one of our collection sites, you (the mother) can do the following:
- Read About AusCord and Public Cord Blood Banking
- When attending antenatal visits, ask your midwife or obstetrician for information.
- On the day of delivery, notify your midwife or obstetrician that you would like to donate your cord blood, and they will contact a SCBB collector. You must have read About AusCord and Public Cord Blood Banking and sign a written consent for collection of cord blood.
- Complete and sign a ‘Medical and Travel History Questionnaire’, which includes questions relating to ethnic background, family medical history and baby's health, and a ‘Donor Declaration’, to assess the risk of infection for hepatitis, HIV, syphilis and other diseases.
- Have a blood test prior or shortly after delivery for infectious disease testing.
- Provide follow-up information via phone or e-mail on your and your baby's health around six months after donation.
Sometimes the cord blood collection may not be successful, for example, because the volume collected is insufficient or there is a clot. If unsuccessful, there will be no need to collect a maternal blood sample from you or complete the health history questionnaire and declaration. You will be notified if this is the case.
All collections are transported to the laboratory for processing and testing. Banking will follow if all quality control tests are satisfactory. If unsuccessful, and provided you have given appropriate consent, the cord blood may be used for research.
In the course of time, (it may be months or years) when the cord blood is being searched for a potential transplant, you may be contacted to re-check the health status of yourself and your child.
Please discuss your wish to donate your baby’s cord blood with your obstetrician and/or midwife.
Alternatives to public donation
Sydney Cord Blood Bank is a public bank storing cord blood for use, anonymously, by anyone in need. The information provided below is about services not provided by SCBB.
Designated/ Family Donation
This is a donation of cord blood for use by a family member in need of a bone marrow transplant. Arrangements for such donation and banking of the cord blood are made by the treating physician.
Processing and storage will normally be arranged by the affiliated Bone Marrow Transplant or cell therapy laboratory of the requesting Transplant Centre.
Families may consider storing cord blood for their own use in case there is ever a medical need, either for the donor child or for another family member. Private banking involves a collection fee and an annual storage fee. Private cord blood banks are available throughout the country.
Can the blood be donated at all times of the day at these hospitals, or are there set times?
The SCBB collects cord blood at three collection centres in NSW provided a trained collector is on-site and available. Saturday and Sunday collections are not offered due to unavailability of laboratory staff for processing the cord blood on weekends.
Can everyone donate?
The SCBB takes numerous steps to ensure that the quality and safety of the cord blood is maintained. Restrictions on donation are similar to those for donating whole blood. Donations are accepted from mothers who have lived in or travelled to the UK.
Where is the cord blood stored until it is needed for transplant, and where does the cord blood end up?
All cord blood donations that meet our strict criteria remain stored at the Sydney Cord Blood Bank in Randwick until they are needed for transplant. Once a cord blood unit is matched to a patient and requested for transplant, it can be shipped anywhere in the world to the patient.
Do you ever need to take a blood sample from my baby?
No. We will not take any blood samples from your baby. We take a sample of blood from you (the mother) to screen for infectious diseases.
Why do you ask my ethnic background?
Ethnic groups share common tissue types which are used for matching a cord blood unit to a patient in need of a cord blood transplant. This information is used to assist in evaluating and increasing the ethnic diversity of the national inventory.
Do I have to remember to contact the Sydney Cord Blood Bank in 6 months’ time after delivery?
No, the Sydney Cord Blood Bank will contact you at 6 months after the birth of your baby to ask you a few additional health questions. It is important you contact SCBB if your contact details change or with any updated health information you feel might be relevant.
How long can you store cord blood for?
We actually don’t know yet! Cord blood has been successfully stored for 25 years and tested to show viable and functioning cells with the potential to still be successfully transplanted. We perform these studies monthly in order to ensure our stored cord blood units are still healthy and functional.
Our research collaborations
For information on requests to collaborate with the Sydney Cord Blood Bank or access cord blood samples for research, please email the Director or Quality Manager via firstname.lastname@example.org
Please attach a project summary and any applicable ethics approval documentation and be sure to provide information on research services and/or samples required.
- The SCBB will consider all research projects and collaborations. It may be necessary to obtain additional ethics approval for publically donated cord blood inclusion via the ABMDR (www.ABMDR.org.au).
- For all approved projects, the SCBB will draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network and the research group.
- A small fee may be charged for cord blood samples to recover the costs of collection or research materials and services.
- Once an MOU is agreed by both parties, arrangements for research and/or samples will be made.
- Director: Dr Guy Klamer
- Medical Directors: Dr Carol Cheung and A/ Prof Rob Lindeman
- Quality Manager: Jessica Sue
- Production Manager: Dr Kap-Hyoun Ko
- Transplant Coordinator: Dr Ai Lin Beh
- Office Manager/Follow-Up Coordinator: Lisa Colnan
More information on how to donate cord blood is available on this website or by phoning 02 9382 0371.
Become an accredited Cord Blood Collector (Health Care Professionals)
To become accredited to collect for the Sydney Cord Blood Bank:
- You must work in an Obstetric team at one of our affiliated collection hospitals.
- You must complete a short training and accreditation program with an SCBB.
Please contact the SCBB for more information.
How to make a charitable donation
To contribute to our activities, simply visit the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation website, follow the easy instructions and specify the Sydney Cord Blood Bank in the ‘Area of interest’ field.
Alternatively, you can address a cheque to "Sydney Cord Blood Bank" and mail it to us, or donate cash in person to our Office Manager.