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Processing & Storage

We are the most highly accredited private cord blood bank in Europe, and the only one to work in genuine partnership with the NHS.

This is because our care of cord blood and tissue samples is exemplary.


Cord Blood and Maternal Blood Tests

On arrival at our laboratory, your cord blood sample is subject to a number of important tests. After we have checked for bacterial contamination, our scientists assess the total number of cells in the cord blood, the number of stem cells (CD34+ cells) present and the viability of these cells. Viability is determined by the health of the stem cells in the cord blood sample.

We also test the mother’s blood for HIV I and II, Hepatitis B & C, Syphilis, CMV and HTLV I & II. These checks are required by UK health regulations.

All cord blood and maternal blood test results are shared with the mother.


Cord Blood Volume Reduction

At Biovault Family we reduce the volume of all the cord blood samples that we store. Volume reduction removes red blood cells from the umbilical cord blood and preserves the beneficial stem cells for storage.

If cord blood is stored whole, without removing the red blood cells, the sample must be washed before it can be used for stem cell transplantation. Red blood cells fragment during the freezing process and are toxic if transplanted. The washing process to remove the red blood cells causes a significant loss of the valuable stem cells, which is why public and private banks around the world volume reduce cord blood prior to storage.

When cord blood is volume reduced, plasma is also removed. The plasma in cord blood contains some growth factors, which help stem cells to survive and develop. These growth factors are produced constantly in much larger amounts by other cells in the body, such as those lining blood vessels, and many are available as non plasma derived manufactured products such as erythropoietin, and GCSF. The discarded plasma is therefore therapeutically insignificant.

For an independent view, we recommend: Why volume reduced is “the industry standard”



The Storage Process

During processing, a cryoprotectant is added to each cord blood sample to prevent damaging ice crystals forming during the freezing process. Your sample is then transferred under aseptic (sterile) conditions to a barcode-labelled storage bag and prepared for freezing.

A small sample of the waste product of umbilical cord blood processing is stored alongside the main sample. This can be used to test the sample prior to transplantation.

Your umbilical cord blood sample is placed in a storage cassette for protection and a tamper-evident seal is applied. The sample is then transferred to a Controlled Rate Freezer, which prevents damaging ice crystals from forming within the cells as the sample is cooled to a temperature of -140oC.

-140oC has been selected and validated as the initial end-point for freezing, as it is below the critical temperature where all physical changes occur. Once this temperature is reached, your umbilical cord blood sample is temporarily stored at -160oC before the cassette is placed in its final storage position at a temperature below -185oC. Cord blood samples are stored in the vapour phase of liquid nitrogen at this temperature, ensuring that your stem cells stay viable for at least 25 years.

If your cord blood stem cell sample is required during those 25 years for transplantation, your storage cassette can be immediately shipped to any location around the world within one of our specialised cryogenic shipping containers.


Your Sample is in Safe Hands

The security of your baby’s cord blood stem cells is our highest priority. Our facility is protected around the clock by highly sophisticated fire and security systems and each storage vessel is individually and securely locked.

We have access control to all areas of the building where client data or samples are held and, should any of these areas be compromised, a silent alarm notifies our security remote monitoring centre. A security patrol is then deployed immediately to check the building and to call the police if there is any sign of disturbance. For additional security during the night, patrols routinely visit our facility to deter any would-be intruders.

We also have a state of the art fire alarm, which is linked to a remote monitoring centre. Any fire alarm activation will trigger a response from the centre, alerting the fire service immediately if necessary. Our facility is conveniently located just 5 minutes from the local Fire and Police Station giving added security and ensuring the quickest response times.

Finally, there is no better way of ensuring that your sample is safe than by monitoring the temperature at which it is stored. A Temperature Monitoring System is fitted to each and every device that holds cord blood samples. The temperature is relayed to software on a server and any interruption or deviation from the set point temperature triggers an escalating alarm. This alarm alerts our team, enabling our technicians to respond immediately.


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