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How Does Stem Cell Preservation Work?

Umbilical cord blood, tissue, & placenta contain valuable stem cells that can be stored to treat future diseases and illnesses. Here’s how they’re preserved.

Published by Anja Health on

September 7, 2022

— Updated on

September 8, 2022

In this article: 

Medical science advances almost daily, but every so often, a discovery changes the face of medicine. In the 1920s, antibiotics changed the way medical professionals treated infections. Now, we have regenerative medicine.

Preserving cells from your baby’s umbilical cord blood, umbilical cord tissue, or placenta unlocks potential future treatment options. Those cells can be stored safely in a Stem Cell Safe, ready to be used in case of disease or illness.

A brief overview 

Stem cells are immature cells, which is what makes them so valuable. One way of thinking of them is to consider them the body’s raw ingredients to make cells; these are the only cells in the body that can take on the form and function of other cells.

For example, they can become heart muscle cells, bone cells, or blood cells. In case of a life-threatening illness, they can help a person heal, potentially saving their life.

At the time of a child’s birth, medical professionals can collect three types of stem cells:

  • Umbilical cord blood
  • Umbilical cord tissue
  • Placenta tissue

Medical professionals believe that the future of medicine is cell-based. At this time, stem cell therapies can benefit people with chronic illnesses like type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and osteoarthritis. They can also effectively treat spinal cord injuries, heart disease, burns, cancer, and stroke.

There is also potential for stem cells to be used to test new drugs. Stem cells could be developed into other types of cells, such as heart muscle cells, to test the efficacy and safety of new treatments for heart disease. In that respect, preserving stem cells today can benefit our broader society. Researchers also believe there are applications in managing transplants.

 

The process of stem cell preservation

The actual process starts with your decision to preserve your baby’s umbilical cord and placenta. Once your decision is made, Anja Health sends you a Stem Cell Safe that contains everything you and your medical team need to collect umbilical cord blood and tissue.

The medical team will handle the collection of the cells, so your doula or midwife needs to know that you intend to bank your cord blood, tissue, or placenta. You can let them know at the time of the birth, but we recommend discussing stem cell storage earlier when agreeing to your birth plan. This is also a great time to discuss the potential uses of the cells once they have been preserved and stored.

The collection process is simple. Once the umbilical cord has been cut, the medical team uses a needle to draw blood from the detached cord. The entire process is painless, and there is no chance of side effects. After collection, the blood is sealed in a bag, ready for the Anja Health transport team to pick it up from anywhere in the United States.

With a newborn baby to take care of, you will have very busy days and often short nights. That is why Anja Health will take care of your stem cell collection. The entire process is simple and convenient for your family.

In the laboratory, cells go through the process of cryopreservation. Once the blood and tissue arrive at the bank, they are tested before being exposed to extremely low temperatures. At normal temperatures, cell material becomes damaged through normal chemical and enzymatic activity, which are a regular part of aging. So, you cannot store your cord blood in a regular household freezer.

Long-term storage at extremely low temperatures effectively stops this activity and prevents cell damage. Cells are cryopreserved in carbon dioxide or at an even lower temperature if liquid nitrogen is used.

With Anja Health, stem cells are transported to our New Jersey-based laboratory facility accredited by the AABB and FDA-approved. As a trusted partner for Anja Health, our laboratory has been in business for more than six decades. The team’s expertise is unparalleled in the industry.

At our lab, your sample is processed manually rather than by machine. Manual processing allows us to recover more cells than machine processing and minimizes contamination during the process. Despite its name, manual processing involves using state-of-the-art technology at each step.

Our team will let you know how many stem cells your baby has available to them at the end of the process. We also pride ourselves in keeping you updated throughout. Transparent communications ensure that you know exactly what is happening with your sample.

 

How long can they be stored?

Once stored, stem cells can be kept for as long as needed. According to recent research, the duration of storage does not limit the stem cells’ chances of recovery and viability.

It is possible to preserve and store cord blood stem cells for your child to use next year, within a few years, or in several decades. Because stem cell medicine and technology are relatively new, there may be the equivalent of a use-by date in several years.

Your baby’s best cells can become the medicine they need as seniors. As stem cell research progresses, medical professionals are discovering more and more applications. These discoveries reveal treatment options we may not currently know about, leading to further medical advances.

 

What are the benefits?

Banking and storing your umbilical cord and placenta has essentially no downsides. The process is quick, painless, and risk-free for the birthing parent and baby. Once frozen, these cells can be preserved indefinitely and become your baby’s lifesaver in a few decades.

Here is why it is worth collecting and storing your umbilical cord and placenta:

  • Stem cells are one of the most important components of regenerative medicine, a field that is developing fast.
  • Over 80 conditions can be treated with cord blood stem cells, and researchers are discovering more applications for these cells.
  • The umbilical cord delivers a potent and active supply of stem cells, whereas adult cells cannot provide the same quantity.
  • As a treatment, stem cell medicine uses the body’s ability to repair itself and recover. There is less risk of adverse reactions because the cells are an exact biological match. 

 

Explore your banking options with Anja Health

Freezing and storing your umbilical cord and placenta with Anja Health is safe and easy. Our team is dedicated to making the preservation of cells accessible to all families.

It is estimated that by age 76, one in 217 people will have (not need, but have) undergone a stem cell transplant.

Nearly one-third of those waiting for a stem cell transplant will not find a match. The statistics are even worse for people of color, putting them at a higher risk of suffering from diseases that cannot be treated otherwise. Anja Health exists to help people like you access the frontier of personalized medicine.

Contact our team today to learn more about your and your family’s options for a better, healthier future.

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