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What happens after birth?

  • After your baby’s birth, healthcare professional will hand the collection kit back to you and we will collect it from your bedside.
  • To alert Cryo-Save, phone the laboratory within two hours of birth.
  • A specialised medical courier will collect the kit from the mother’s bedside and deliver the sample to the Cryo-Save laboratory.
  • To maximise the viability of the stem cells, it is important that the sample reaches us within 48 hours of collection.

Now that these precious stem cells have been collected, what happens next?

  • On arrival at our laboratory in Pretoria, all cord blood samples are processed using a BioSafe Sepax blood processing kit and the internationally validated FAMCORD protocol.
  • This allows for comprehensive quality control monitoring of the sample during processing. The kit is a closed, single-use system which minimises the risk of contamination during processing and testing of the sample. The concentrated stem cells are then frozen by a method of controlled rate freezing and placed, for long-term storage, in a cryo-preservation tank. A sample of your baby’s cord blood will be tested by a private pathology laboratory to verify that the stem cells are viable and that the collection is sterile.

How are my baby’s stem cells stored?

Stem cells are stored in special cryo-preservation bags which are overwrapped and placed, individually, in aluminium protective cases. Each sample is labelled with a unique identifying code and stored, in a cryo-preservation tank, in the vapour phase of liquid nitrogen (at approximately minus 180oC).

How long can you keep these cells in storage?

  • The first cord blood transplant was performed in 1988.
  • A pioneer in the field of cord blood transplantation and cryo-preservation is Professor Hal Broxmeyer.
  • He and his colleagues have demonstrated that cord blood (haematopoietic) stem cells that have been cryo-preserved (frozen) for 23 years, showed efficient recovery and gave proliferation results similar to fresh cord blood.
  • Validation studies are ongoing but it is likely that cord blood stem cells stored in the vapour phase of liquid nitrogen can potentially be stored for decades to come.