Pregnancy is a wonderful time in the life of a family, full of bright emotions, pleasant troubles and joyful anticipation of the real miracle. And if a baby carriage, a crib and baby’s first dowry can be bought after their birth, it is necessary to think in advance about the health of your future child. Naturally, a pregnant woman takes care of her food, comfort, tries to spend more time outdoors and to be less nervous.
However, in the last decade the responsible parents worldwide are more and more concerned not to miss one more important investment in the health of their baby – a contract with a bank of umbilical cord blood, which can be regarded as a biological “insurance” for the whole family.
What is the value of cord blood and why is it worth to preserve it?
The blood, that remains in the umbilical cord after birth, is a very rich source of stem cells, the early progenitor cells that give rise to all the tissues and organs of our body. In the future, the stored stem cells can be used to treat a variety of serious diseases, primarily as an alternative to bone marrow in the case of malignant blood disorders (leukemia , lymphoma , etc.).
To date, more than 30,000 transplants of umbilical cord blood stem cells were performed in the world and 500 cryobanks were created. It is worth mentioning that in the developed world cord blood banking is funded by the state.
How is the collection, processing and storage of cord blood perfomed?
After the birth of a baby, the doctor or a nurse will cut the umbilical cord and the system for cord blood collection will be connected to the umbilical vein on the mother’s end of the cord ( without any contact with a newborn !), in which the blood will flow spontaneously. Thereafter, the packet with the collected umbilical cord blood, appropriate accompanying documentation in the special transport container is transported to the cryobank laboratory for further procession.
In the laboratory, the cell fraction containing stem cells will be separated from the cord blood and frozen. Also, the tests will be conducted to identify the major infections in accordance with the requirements of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and international guidelines. Storage of cord blood stem cells is carried out in a dewar with liquid nitrogen at a temperature of – 196 C. Science has proven that biological material can be stored under the conditions of very low temperatures for the infinitely long period of time.
What should be taken into account, when choosing a cryobank to preserve your newborn’s umbilical cord blood ?
According to Ukrainian legislation, all organizations engaged in processing and storage of cord blood must be licensed for”The activities of banks of umbilical cord blood, other human tissues and cells ” and comply with license conditions .
In Ukraine, the license terms for the cord blood banks anticipate the availability of the necessary material and laboratory facilities, as well as appropriate training of the staff. Thus, according to experts, the minimum space required for a full and effective functioning of the cord blood bank shall be not less than 500 sq.m. Also, cord blood bank should have a reserve storage of liquid nitrogen with the capacity of not less than one tonne, which will ensure the continued safety of the samples of stem cells in the event of any disruption in the supply of liquid nitrogen. And according to license requirements, cord blood bank should have its own PCR laboratory for infectious safety of the stored samples.
РThe technique of separation and freezing of the cell fraction, used by the cryobank, is critical towards the quality of the umbilical cord blood stem cells preparation. The best criterion for the evaluation of the quality of umbilical cord blood procession in your chosen cryobank , is unquestionably the number of successful transplants of stem cell samples, that were processed in the laboratory of this cryobank .
In Ukraine, the leaders in the cryopreservation of umbilical cord blood stem cells are the Institute of Cell Therapy (Kiev ) and the Gusak Institute of Urgent and Reconstructive Surgery ( Donetsk).