Better Cord Blood Storage 2024: How is cord blood processed and stored?

How is Cord Blood Stored?

Cord Blood Storage: Afterward, cord blood collection has taken place, the blood is placed into bags or syringes and is usually taken by courier to the cord blood bank. Once there, the sample is given a unique identification number. After the stem cells are separated from the rest of the blood and are stored cryogenically (frozen in liquid nitrogen) in a collection facility or a cord-blood bank. Then, if needed, blood-forming stem cells can be unfreeze and used in either Autologous Procedures or Allogeneic Procedures.

How do you store umbilical cord blood?

After storing cord blood, each vial is clearly marked with Cord Blood Number, Date of Birth, Baby’s Name, Date of Processing, and Contents, before it is sent to the first stage of the cryopreserving process. The vials are placed into two different temperature cryo-tanks before being submerged into the liquid nitrogen tanks. This process is to ensure the safety of the cells. The progression to lower and lower temperatures keeps the cells from going into shock from the extreme negative temperature of -321° Fahrenheit.

Before the cells can go into the liquid nitrogen tanks where they will be stored at -321 degrees Fahrenheit, the cells go throw a slow freeze process in the vapor tank. Your baby’s stem cells are stored in submerged liquid nitrogen tank. This tank has 25 inches of liquid nitrogen to ensure that the temperature will remain at –321 degree Fahrenheit. All of these tanks are located in the highly monitored and secured facility.

When living tissues are frozen, they are immersed in a solvent, which protects the cells against the formation of ice crystals, because ice crystals would rupture cell membranes. The solvent most commonly used for cryopreservation of cord blood is “DMSO” (DiMethylSulfOxide, usually in 10% solution) to act as a shield around the stem cells. This solution is spun out of the stem cells in the removal and usage by for a transplant. (Please note that it is not all-inclusive and concrete procedure, the actual procedure may vary from one storage facility to another, as there is a lot of research in the medical literature on alternate chemical combinations).

How long can cord blood stored

Stem cells should last forever, but cord-blood research has only been ongoing since the 1970s, so the maximum time for storage and potential usage are still being determined. Blood-forming stem cells that have been stored up to 14 years have been used successfully in transplants. So we can safely say that the shelf life is good and if stored properly it can be used many years into the future.

Freezing Umbilical Cord Blood (UCB): To further protect cord blood cells against the formation of ice crystals, it is important that the cells freeze slowly. This is done in a special controlled-rate freezer, and then the blood is transferred to long-term storage. The final storage temperature should remain stable at -196 degree Celsius. Freezers and handling procedures are designed to avoid “Transient Warming Events (TWEs)”. In particular, the cells must stay below -130 C while they are in storage. If the temperature fluctuates above -130 C and then below again, the blood will suffer irreparable cell damage.

Freezer Types of cord blood storage: A few public cord blood banks with big budgets use “BioArchive” freezers from Thermogenesis (Nasdaq: KOOL). These freezers were originally developed at the New York Blood Center. This liquid nitrogen freezer uses a proprietary, computer-driven robotic system to cryopreserve and archive up to 3,626 bag units. The location and retrieval of each sample is computerized.

The goal of using a robotic arm to circulate and retrieve samples is to avoid “Transient Warming Events (TWEs)” when samples are added or removed from storage. Most of the public cord blood banks in the USA are using “dewars”, which are basically insulated tanks with lids. The disadvantage of these units is the need to open the lid when adding or removing samples. However, temperatures are monitored constantly and they have been proven effective for long-term storage. All private cord blood banks in the USA are also using “dewars”, like most of the public banks.

Freezer Contents: Blood is stored in either bags or vials. When the racks in the freezer are loaded with blood containers, they should be spaced evenly to ensure temperature stability. A given freezer will have racks designed to hold either bags or vials, you cannot mix containers in the same freezer. Hence, most banks build their business around one type of storage container or the other. The cryogenic temperatures are maintained with cold nitrogen. a few banks use the liquid phase of nitrogen and others use cold nitrogen vapor (gas). The pros and cons of the nitrogen options are given in the (cord blood storage) table below.

Liquid Nitrogen Vapor Nitrogen
Uses more nitrogen Cheaper (only fill the bottom of the tank)
Constant temperature Possible Transient Warming Events
Documented chance of infectious disease leaking from one bag onto the outside of another and infecting the recipient Safer for Quarantine Tank
Long-term viability confirmed Broxmeyer, H. E., et al. 2003 pnas.0237086100 Long-term viability not studied

How much does cord blood storage cost?

The cord blood storage costs handed are approximate and can vary between different cord blood banks in the USA. It’s judicious to check with specific banks for their pricing details and any fresh freights that may apply.

Information (cord blood storage)  Cost (cord blood storage)
Initial Processing and Testing $1,500 – $2,500
Annual Storage Fee  $100 – $300 (approx.)
Collection Kit Fee (one-time) $100 – $300 (approx.)
Shipping Fee (for sending collected cord blood) $100 – $200 (approx.)
Total First-Year Cost (including initial fees)  $1,800 – $3,300 (approx.)
Total Annual Renewal Cost $100 – $300 (approx.)



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