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August 4, 2022

If I Saved My Cord Blood, Could I Bank It Myself?

Cord blood stem cells can specifically only survive if they are cryopreserved at extreme temperatures (generally around -190 degrees Celsius). It also needs to be processed properly in order to separate stem cells from the umbilical cord, the blood inside of it, and the placenta. As a result, i...

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Stem cell storage means collecting and preserving stem cells in umbilical cord blood and tissue for use in future cell treatments or clinical trials. Storage can be private (for the baby and their family) or public (available for use by anyone). Privately banking your umbilical cord blood means it is reserved for the baby or other relatives to treat nearly 80 diseases like leukemia and lymphoma. It also remains available for clinical trials treating conditions like autism or cerebral palsy.

How to store cord blood stem cells

Cord blood is not able to be stored in a regular fridge or freezer. Cord blood stem cells can only survive if they are cryopreserved at extreme temperatures (generally around -190 degrees Celsius).

To maintain these extreme temperatures, nitrogen freezers store cord blood. Traditionally, there are two types of nitrogen freezers: liquid and vapor. A liquid nitrogen freezer submerges the samples directly into the nitrogen. A vapor nitrogen freezer uses nitrogen to chill the air within the freezer.

In Anja Health's AABB-accredited laboratory, units are frozen under liquid nitrogen conditions. All cord blood banks are required to do a stability program and measure cell viability over the time of the storage. 

Anja Health's Lab Director, Roger Mrowiec says, "We have a history of our units for over 60 years, and the viability does not drop. Cell storage below 135 degrees is stable and does not change their viability over time."

Cord blood must also be processed properly to separate stem cells from the umbilical cord, the blood inside, and the placenta. As a result, it is of the utmost importance that umbilical cords are banked with a private company that has access to all of this specialized lab equipment. 

How Anja Health banks your cord blood

Anja Health helps parents store umbilical cord blood so parents can use its stem cells in case their child ever gets sick. Once you enroll with Anja, you're sent a premium Stem Cell Safe to your home. This collection kit that contains all necessary FDA-approved materials and can be kept at room temperature. Bring the kit with you to the delivery room and let your healthcare provider know that you have it.

Immediately after giving birth, your baby's umbilical cord is clamped and cut. A doctor or midwife draws cord blood from the clamped cord into a specialized collection bag. Once you alert our shipping team that you've given birth, a medical courier picks up the collection kit and speedily delivers it to our lab facility. Necessary testing is done, and cord blood stem cells are stored in a liquid nitrogen storage tank within our lab facility.

Take a peek inside Anja Health's lab facility:

How to retrieve your cord blood stem cells

When private banking, an owner owns the unit. Before releasing the sample to the requesting physician, the lab verifies the integrity and identity of the bag that holds the unit. The unit is retrieved from the liquid nitrogen freezer, transferred to a liquid nitrogen dry shipper (a specially designed shipping container that can sustain a temperature of -190 degrees Celsius for seven to ten days), and shipped to the facility that requested the unit. The unit is monitored and controlled throughout the whole process. 

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