How Long Can Cord Blood Be Stored?

How Long Can Cord Blood Be Stored?
Cord blood, often referred to as "nature's gift," is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta after the baby's birth. This fluid is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which promise medical miracles and transformative treatments. As parents, you must learn about the longevity of cord blood following its extraction to shape your child’s future well-being.

Importance of Storing Cord Blood

Cord blood has the remarkable ability to develop into various types of blood cells, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. These cells can treat more than 80 diseases, including certain cancers, blood disorders, immune system deficiencies, and genetic disorders. Additionally, cord blood's value extends beyond your child's immediate health. It can serve as a familial insurance policy, providing a genetic match for siblings or other family members in need of stem cell transplants. This altruistic approach to cord blood preservation not only safeguards your own child but extends its protective wings to your family as a whole.

How Long Can Cord Blood Be Stored?

Traditionally, cord blood banking institutions have set a standard storage period of around 15 years. This duration was considered sufficient to retain the viability and functionality of the hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) within the cord blood, ensuring their potential for future medical applications. However, recent research shows that cord blood can be stored for an extended period of time without significant loss of quality or potency. Specifically, research conducted on cryopreserved cord blood samples has revealed that stem cells can remain viable and effective for up to 23.5 years after freezing. This revelation opens up exciting avenues for parents and caregivers to consider longer storage durations, thereby expanding the horizon of medical opportunities for their children.

How Long is Cord Blood Good For? - Factors that Influence Its Shelf Life

The shelf life is influenced by an intricate interplay of various factors, such as:

Storage Conditions

Consistent and controlled temperatures are essential to preserve the viability and potency of the stem cells within cord blood. Storage with an extremely high temperature can lead to cellular damage, while excessively low temperatures can form ice crystals that compromise cell integrity. Therefore, it is essential to preserve the cord blood cells in cryopreservation units. These units freeze cord blood to extremely low temperatures, allowing the cells to enter a state of suspended animation where all biological activity is halted. This cutting-edge preservation technique ensures that the freezing process is gradual and uniform to minimize the risk of cellular damage and extend stem cells' lifespan.

Processing Techniques

Before cord blood is cryopreserved, it often undergoes a process of volume reduction. This involves the removal of excess plasma and red blood cells, leaving behind a higher concentration of valuable stem cells. The presence of red blood cells in cord blood can impact its long-term viability. Red blood cells are susceptible to hemolysis during freezing and thawing, potentially compromising the overall quality of the sample. As a result, volume reduction not only enhances storage efficiency but also reduces the risk of ice crystal formation during freezing, thus safeguarding cell integrity.

Initial Quality of Cord Blood

The inherent quality of cord blood at the time of collection plays a pivotal role in determining its shelf life. Factors, such as the volume of cord blood collected, the total number of stem cells, and their viability upon collection directly influence the potential for long-term storage. Cord blood samples with higher stem cell counts and greater viability are more likely to withstand the rigors of time and storage.

Cord Blood Banking Options

To store your newborn's cord blood, you can choose from the following blood banking options:

Public Cord Blood Banks

Public cord blood banks operate on a nonprofit basis, driven by the goal of building a diverse and accessible repository of cord blood units for the benefit of the broader population. When you choose to donate your child's cord blood to a public bank, it becomes available for potential use by any patient in need of a stem cell transplant. In such cases, your child's cord blood unit may not be available for you to use, if needed in the future.

Private Cord Blood Banks

Private cord blood banks allow parents to store their child's cord blood exclusively for their family's use. These banks charge a fee for collection, processing, and long-term storage of the cord blood unit. By choosing a private bank, you secure the potential medical benefits of cord blood for your child and immediate family members.

Hybrid Cord Blood Banks

Hybrid cord blood banks offer a compromise between public and private options. You have the choice to store your child's cord blood privately while also allowing the cord blood unit to be used for research or transplantation by unrelated patients if it meets specific criteria.

Preserve Your Child's Cord Blood with AlphaCord

Your baby's cord blood contains stem cells that can help treat various illnesses like cancer, cardiovascular problems, and genetic diseases. You can safely preserve these stem cells for decades. For instance, when extracted through a certain procedure and stored in a temperature-controlled environment, cord blood cells can last for up to 23 years. To protect the future well-being of your children, choose AlphaCord’s private cord blood banking. With a commitment to cutting-edge cryopreservation techniques and stringent quality control measures, AlphaCord offers cord blood banking that resonates with the aspirations you hold for the health of your loved ones.