It is well known that freezing whole blood is a cheaper and simpler option for tissue banks when it comes to processing umbilical cord blood samples for stem cell storage. So why doesn’t everyone store whole blood?
The majority of tissue and cell storage banks remove the red blood cells from each umbilical cord sample (volume reduction), saving only the buffy coat that contains the valuable stem cells. Plasma is also removed as there is not enough to be useful for any medical treatments, e.g. those which treathaemophilia.
If the cells are needed for a medical treatment then the samples must be sent to the appropriate medical facility. For samples that have been volume reduced the cells can then be transfused straight into the patient once thawed.
When cord blood samples are not volume reduced but are stored as whole blood, the red blood cells are not removed. The samples will then have to be washed before they can be used in order to to remove the red cells which can be toxic to the person receiving the blood. This washing process can cause a significant loss of valuable stem cells.
The safest way to prevent such an issue with your cord blood is to remove the red cells when your umbilical cord sample is initially processed. There is a little more time needed in the processing, but it will mean that there are no risks to the sample if required to be used that can be associated with samples not volume reduced before freezing (whole blood).
For your family the most important thing to consider is the safe and secure storage of your stem cell samples which may be needed to help secure your family’s future health. If these cells are needed then you will want to ensure that when the samples are thawed, they can be used and there is no further loss of valuable stem cells.
Biovault Family has released the highest number of privately banked cord blood units in the UK.