One of the greatest advantages of storing your child’s umbilical cord blood in a private cord blood bank is that it can be preserved for many years. This means your child or another family member can access this valuable and potentially life-saving medical resource long into the future.
But how long can cord blood be preserved? This article will answer this question and identify the main advantages of being able to store cord blood for long periods.
How is umbilical cord blood stored?
Umbilical cord blood is found in the placenta and umbilical cord. It is a rich source of stem cells which can be used to treat more than 80 serious illnesses including many forms of blood cancer, blood disorders, and immune system disorders.
The process of storing cord blood begins shortly after your child is born. Once your obstetrician has confirmed that both you and your baby are healthy, they will proceed on collecting the cord blood from the detached umbilical cord. This process typically takes about 15 minutes.
WATCH: HOW CORD BLOOD BANKING WORKS
If the sample contains a sufficient number of viable cord blood stem cells, Cells4Life will store it in two or more containers and placed into our state-of-the-art cryogenic freezers. The sample is sub-divided to minimise the risk of catastrophic event affecting your child’s stem cells.
Cord blood stem cell samples are stored at or below -190 degrees Celsius in the vapour phase of liquid nitrogen. At this temperature, biological activity ceases. Theoretically, samples stored at the correct temperature will remain viable for decades.
There have been multiple studies performed to determine the viability of cord blood stem cells placed into cryogenic storage. Researchers have already confirmed that stem and progenitor cells that have been frozen and thawed were viable 23.5 years after being placed in storage. However, scientists suspect that stem cells may be successfully stored for much longer periods in the correct conditions.
How long does Cells4Life store cord blood?
Cells4Life currently offers up to 60 years of storage for cord blood samples. This figure is based upon the latest research findings which show that stem cells remain viable for decades when stored in the right conditions. We also base this figure on the knowledge that other types of cells can remain viable in cryogenic storage for over 50 years.
What are the benefits of being able to store cord blood for a long time?
Being able to store a cord blood sample for a long time is advantageous for a number of reasons:
1) Safety net for future illnesses
Keeping the cord blood stored for a longer period ensures that your child will have access to it even when they grow up into adult. Should they fell ill when they get older and stem cell transplant is needed, they will have a cord blood sample ready for use immediately.
2) Future generations of your family can access it
The cord blood stem cells stored for your child may be of use to any close family members, including their siblings (25% chance of being a perfect match). Having this valuable medical resource available for two, three, or four decades into the future will mean that your children and grandchildren have stem cells available to treat illnesses like leukaemia and Fanconi anaemia.
3) Making the most of future medical discoveries
Research into potential cord blood treatments is moving at a rapid rate. In the past few years, scientists have made discoveries indicating that cord blood stem cells may soon be used to treat conditions like heart disease, blindness, diabetes, and spinal injuries. If your child has their stem cells safely stored, they will be able to access any incredible medical breakthroughs that occur in the coming years.