Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs

Cord blood banking FAQs


What is cord blood?
Cord blood is the blood found in the umbilical cord and placenta.

Why bank cord blood?
Like bone marrow, umbilical cord blood is a rich source of blood forming (haematopoietic) stem cells. The blood-forming stem cells from cord blood are potentially useful for treating diseases that require stem cell transplants.

What other tissues can be banked at private cord blood banks? 
Some private tissue banks store umbilical cord tissue, dental pulp and adipose (fat) tissue to extract cells for potential future uses. There are currently no established medical uses for cells extracted from these types of tissue.

What donor eligibility criteria exist for cord blood donation?
There are mandatory screening and testing requirements for anyone who donates any kind of tissue or cells. These requirements are set out in Annexes A and B of the HTA’s Guide to Quality and Safety Assurance for Human Tissues and Cells for Patient Treatment. As well as these, each cord blood bank may set its own eligibility criteria, and carry out its own additional tests.

I am considering going abroad for a stem cell treatment not offered in the UK. Where can I find advice on whether or not this is safe?
If you are considering travelling abroad for a treatment, you should first talk to a trusted medical practitioner, such as your GP or specialist, about the safety of unlicensed stem cell treatments or treatments only available overseas. Use caution with online searches and clinics that promise cures based on patient testimonials.

Last updated on: 14 Dec 2020