Cord Blood Processing: Manual vs. Automated

Okay guys—we’re sharing some major knowledge! Not all cord blood processing methods are created equal, and we’re here to set the record straight. There are two main classifications of cord blood processing—manual and automated. The best part about this topic—SCIENCE. Science is backed by facts, which is a win in our book! The proof is in the processing. Manual processing is a very detailed method that allows cord blood samples as small as 10ml to be processed, a volume that is typically too small for an automated processing machine to handle. When compared to automated processing methods, smaller samples (generally volumes ranging 20-30mL or smaller) may not be processed. Why? Automated processing uses a machine to separate the stem cells from other blood components; the machine almost always has a minimum volume threshold for processing, only allowing larger samples to be managed. So, what happens if your doctor collects a sample smaller than a (automated) minimum volume requirement? It gets thrown away. For example: Your doctor only collects 18ml of cord blood, but your selected cord blood bank uses an automated technique. The machine used to process the cord blood has a minimum of 30ml in order to be eligible to process. The result? Your sample is discarded and the cord blood banking opportunity is lost. With manual processing methods, the minimum sample threshold allows much smaller samples to be processed. AKA, manual processing for the win! In addition to handling a wider range of sample volumes, manual processing provides a more intricate stem cell separation strategy. The following example totally captures the message of why manual processing is more accurate, and often retrieves more stem cells. Example time: If you were to go to a luxury car wash, typically, you’d experience a hand washed, hand dried, and very detailed type of car wash. When you get your car back it’s super clean and shiny, and maybe even the best car wash you’ve had! In comparison, let’s say you pull up to an automated car wash, and you drive through the car washing machine (no washing, drying, or detailing by hand). The end result isn’t nearly as high of quality as the manual car wash. The same concept applies to cord blood processing—manual processing (completed by hand), allows the samples to be processed at a much more detailed level, allowing higher quality processing. At AlphaCord, we practice state-of-the-art sample processing and storage procedures. Here are a few ways we do this:
  1. Maternal blood testing. As your baby’s cord blood sample is being tested, processed, and stored, we test maternal blood (mother’s blood) samples as well. We do this to check for any diseases or abnormalities that may affect your baby’s cord blood sample. This extra step is just another way we verify the health and status of the cord blood.
  2. Separate red blood cells and plasma. Yep, that’s part of it. Red blood cells and plasma actually do not carry the stem cells you’re saving from your baby’s cord blood. The stem cells have their own little party separate from other blood components. If frozen, the red blood cells would burst and destroy the cord blood stem cells (hematopoietic stem cells), so we get rid of them. By separating the red blood cells and plasma out of the sample, we’re able to ensure that the cord blood stem cells remain in a dormant state while stored in our cryogenic tanks.
  3. We do some serious testing on your baby’s cord blood to make sure it is viable and able to be used if the time ever comes. We conduct a variety of tests on the cord blood, including, but not limited to: Stem Cell Viability, TNC (total nucleated cells) Count, Sample Volume, CD34+, Recovery, and more.
  4. Once the cord blood sample has been processed and is ready for storage, the cells are preserved in a metal cassette and labeled with multiple identifying markers. Once your sample is placed in the tank, we provide 24/7/365 coverage to monitor the status of our tanks, and ultimately, your baby’s sample.
Have questions about AlphaCord and the process of storing cord blood? Contact us today for a free information kit, 866-396-7283. THE CONTENT OF THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. If you have a medical emergency or question, immediately call your doctor or dial 911 for assistance.