Cord Blood Storage Life Expectancy

Cord blood storage life expectancy is a controversial issue, in that it is unknown how long a cord blood sample can be sucessfully frozen.  Some research has shown that it can be frozed indefinitely, but there is no hard and fast answer to this question.


This dilemma raises serious ethical and moral questions, in that many families may be given false hope by believing that their banked cord blood will be available anytime it is needed when it may have become unviable.  In fact, in their 2007 Policy Statement on Cord Blood Banking, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stated that:


"Physicians should be aware of the unsubstantiated claims of private cord blood banks made to future parents that promise to insure infants or family members against serious illnesses in the future by use of the stem cells contained in cord blood."


In addition, many samples, estimated at up to 75%, may be too small for a cord blood stem cell transplant, even for a child.  A private cord blood bank will store this too small sample and may report its size limitations to the famiy.  Public cord blood banks have recorded disposing of 75% of the donated samples or using them for research because of inadequate sample size.


In addition, even a fully viable sample can only be used to treat a person under 90 pounds.  This will severely limit the time frame in which to use the cord blood, for either the child from which it was taken or a family member/sibling.


The long-term viability of cord blood storage may also depend on whether is it frozen as a single unit or rather separated into smaller bags so that it may first be tested without using the entire sample.

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Page Last Modified by Catherine Beier, MS, CBE

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