Cord Blood Program

Be part of the next wave of breakthroughs for congenital heart disease with cord blood treatment

In a matter of just a few decades, the advancements made for congenital heart disease (CHD) care have been astounding. Just thirty years ago, doctors were figuring out how a baby with a congenital heart defect could survive to their first birthday. Today, we are focusing on how to ensure these children thrive in every domain as they enter into adulthood.

But the work does not stop there. Even with therapeutic and patient care advancements, many CHD patients that receive prosthetic devices or material to repair cardiac structures including valves, patches and vessels will require life-long therapy to limit clotting and rejection. In addition, many recipients will need additional surgeries later in life as they outgrow their implant. The next wave of CHD research explores how we can further advance these therapeutic approaches and overcome current limitations by using a patient’s own cells for more precise and personalized treatments. 

The development of the Cord Blood Program at the Herma Heart Institute reflects our continued investment in this next wave of research — known as Precision Medicine. Now, our Cord Blood Program is looking to partner with families to store valuable cord blood and tissue after the birth of their baby pre-diagnosed with CHD in utero. Their umbilical blood or tissue holds the potential to unlock new personalized treatments and therapies for CHD patients and their families in the years to come.  

The Herma Heart Institute difference

The first cord blood bankings facility was established in the late 1980s. Today, there are a handful of cord blood banks throughout the United States that store cord blood to use in future clinical treatments. Families who use these cord blood storage facilities usually pay an upfront cost as well as annual storage fees.

However, the Cord Blood Program at the Herma Heart Institute is able to provide this service at no charge to families. By participating in our program, the cord blood (and tissue) will be used by the Herma Heart Institute’s research team to develop new therapies and treatments for the future, and will be available to you to retrieve at any time. 

How to participate in the Cord Blood Program

Participation in this program is not limited to patients of the Herma Heart Institute, and we encourage all CHD families to participate in this initiative. Interested participants can learn more about the program by talking to their fetal care team, physician, or by filling out the form below. We will respond within 2 business days.

Contact us to learn more or enroll


Frequently asked questions

What is cord blood and why is it used in congenital heart disease research?

Cord blood is what remains in the umbilical cord after the delivery of a baby. This blood is rich with cells that can be invaluable in research. These cells — known as stem cells — are unique in that they can generate new cells that can be made into living cardiac tissue to generate new heart valves, patches, vessels etc. The advantage of using patient’s own cells for this process is that it avoids rejection, the need for anti-clotting therapy and grows within the pediatric recipient. For patients living with CHD, this level of precision medicine opens a world of opportunities for better outcomes and quality of life.

Who is eligible to participate in the Cord Blood Program?

Eligible participants include any family whose baby has been pre-diagnosed with a congenital heart defect in utero, or expecting families that have a history of CHD. The program is also looking for participants who are not pre-diagnosed CHD to serve as controls. 

You can decide to participate in the program at any time during your pregnancy, though you will need to allow enough time to enroll in the program and for your collection kit to arrive before delivery. 

Does my child have to be a patient of the Herma Heart Institute to participate?

You do not need to be seen by the Herma Heart Institute or Children’s Wisconsin to participate in the Cord Blood Program. If you are pregnant anywhere in the United States and your baby has been diagnosed with a congenital heart defect or you want to join as a control, you can participate in the Cord Blood Program.

What is the cost of storing cord blood?

While other cord blood banks usually require an initial charge and annual storage fees, our Cord Blood Program collects and stores cord blood at no charge to families.

How is the cord blood collected and stored?

Cord blood or tissue can be collected from any birth. After registering with our Cord Blood Program, you will receive a collection kit. This kit includes all the necessary instructions and storage materials needed to safely collect, package and ship the sample.

Is there any risk that all of my cord blood is used in research?

A little goes a long way in cord blood research. Our scientists can do a wide range of studies on a very small sample of cord blood. We intend to keep enough sample of every participant’s cord blood so that it can be used in future therapies and treatments.

Can I retrieve my cord blood sample at any time?

Yes, you can retrieve your sample at any time.

I previously banked my cord blood. Can I move the sample over to the Cord Blood Program?

Interested families should fill out our contact us form and we will follow up with you within 2 business days.

What if I have more questions?

We understand that you may have more questions about this process. Please fill out our contact us form if you have any additional questions.