Research Bench Lab

MCW Maternal Research Placenta & Cord Blood Bank

Pregnancy Stethoscope


The MCW Maternal Research Placenta & Cord Blood Bank is an extension of the MCW Tissue Bank and serves to support physicians and medical researchers across campus in the investigation of various conditions and potential treatments. Cord blood is an essential source of stem cells and is increasing being used on an experimental basis to treat diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and many more. Research supported by this program may also involve the discovery of new medications or the advancement of current treatment methods. Therefore, Banking cord blood and making it available to researchers is essential to future research that could potentially extend many lives. Consent to this program involves a one-time donation of blood and tissue samples discarded from a single pregnancy.

Participation Information

Tissue Banking at MCW involves storing health information and blood or tissue samples in the MCW Tissue Bank for the purpose of medical research. Consent to this program only applies to a single pregnancy and any future pregnancies would require separate consent. Participants who choose to participate in MCW Maternal Research Placenta & Cord Blood Bank consent to the following:

  • A one-time blood collection at your next routine clinical blood draw. Since the blood is collected during a routine clinical draw, no extra needle sticks are necessary, and the amount of blood taken (less than one tablespoon) does not pose any increased risk.
  • Permission to bank any remnants of blood or tissue that would otherwise be discarded following a single consented pregnancy. This may include cord blood, blood, and birth related tissues such as placenta or umbilical cord.
  • Permission to securely access and use some of your electronic health information to provide research teams linked to your samples.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Over 18 years of age
  • Currently pregnant
  • A patient of Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin
  • The ability to speak and read English (consent form is only available in English currently)

Contact Information

To consent, please contact your Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cord blood?

Cord blood is the blood that remains in the blood vessels of the placenta and the umbilical cord after a baby is born. After the birth, the baby no longer needs this extra blood, and it can be collected for future use.

Cord blood contains all normal elements of blood: red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. All of these are produced by stem cells, also known as hematopoietic (blood forming) stem cells. These stems cells have the ability to “fit in” with other cells, adapting to suit the needs of the body. Unlike other cells within the body, they are non-specific, and can ensure the reproduction and healthy growth of cells in all parts of the body, rather than just in a particular area of the body. Stem cells also have the unique ability to renew and replicate themselves and can join the cells of the kidney, liver, heart or any other tissue or organ of the body.

How is cord blood collected?

Umbilical cord blood is collected after giving birth. As standard procedure, a birthing specialist will clamp and cut the umbilical cord. Instead of discarding the cord and blood, a small area of the cord, adjacent to the clamp, is sanitized and a needle is inserted into the umbilical cord vein and either drawn out with a syringe or the blood is allowed to drain naturally into a blood collection bag. The blood will then be processed and stored cryogenically.

Can I know the outcome of the research my samples may help to support?

Since the MCW Tissue Bank supports numerous different researchers, we unfortunately cannot provide participants with information regarding specific studies their samples may help to support. However, rest assured that all research conducted at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin must be approved by our Institutional Review Board (IRB).

What is the Institutional Review Board (IRB)?

The IRB is a committee of doctors, researchers, and members of the community who are responsible for protecting the rights, welfare, and privacy of all individuals who participate in research sponsored by the Medical College of Wisconsin as well as Froedtert Hospital. The IRB reviews studies involving human subjects to ensure safety, compliance with laws and regulations, scientific quality, and ethical standards. Specimens donated to the MCW Tissue Bank cannot be used for research without the permission of the IRB.

Can I still participate even if I do not have an upcoming scheduled blood draw?

Yes, we will collect a blood sample at your next routine clinical draw, regardless of the timeframe until your next blood draw is scheduled.

How long does consent to this program last?

Consent to the MCW Maternal Research Placenta & Cord Blood Bank applies only to a single pregnancy. Any and all future pregnancies would require a separate consent for participation.

There is no limit on how long we may keep your samples in our Bank. However, if you choose to withdraw from the program, which you may do so at any time, any samples still banked will be removed and properly discarded.

Will I be compensated for participation?

There is no direct benefit to you other than the satisfaction of helping to advance knowledge. You will not be paid for your specimens nor receive any payment from patents or products that result from the research.