The Cord Blood Preservation Process

The cord blood preservation process utilized with vary by facility or public bank. An adequate cord blood collection sample must first have been obtained for banking, which is typically a minimum of 75mL.  The average sample size is 100mL.


After the cord blood collection procedure has been completed, the sample is packaged in the pre-labeled materials uniquely labeled to your child and then sent off to the facility of your choice.  This procedure is much the same if you are donating the umbilical cord blood, except in that instance no personally identifiable information is included on the packaging materials.  


Once the sample reaches the lab, it should be processed within 48 hours to ensure it remains viable. Usually, one of two methods will be used to prepare the sample for preservation.  The first type will separate out the red blood cells, removing them completely from the cord blood.  In another type of  processing, the cord blood sample will remain intact. In both cases, the sample will first be tested for viruses, including HIV, Hepatitis B/C,  as well as any additional fungal, bacterial, and infectious diseases.  The total blood volume and stem cell concentration will also be calculated.  In addition, tissue typing will also be completed to determine the HLA type of the sample in the event a future transplant becomes necessary so that suitable matches can be made.


After these procedures have been completed, a cryopreservant will be added to the umbilical cord blood sample, which allows the stem cells to survive the freezing process.   The sample is first slowly cooled to -90 C.  At this point, it will be added to a liquid nitrogen tank that will further freeze the unit to its preservation temperature of -196 C.


To determine which preservation process will be used, you must ask each specific cord blood banking facility.  Many times, this information is available on their website or in their promotional materials, or can be answered over the phone.

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Page Last Modified by Catherine Beier, MS, CBE

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