Since the first cord blood samples were stored, scientists have removed the plasma and red blood cells before freezing (cryopreserving) the cord blood sample. This is known as volume reduced storage.
While volume reduced storage has been practised for many years, there is ongoing debate about its effects. Some cord blood banks advise “whole blood” storage because it preserves all stem cells in the cord blood sample and is cheaper to process.
But don’t let this sway your decision! There are a few very good reasons to choose volume reduced cord blood storage for preserving your stem cells.
#1: It gets rid of the unnecessary
The plasma in cord blood doesn’t contain stem cells and red blood cells (RBCs) are not believed to help during transplants. Therefore the RBCs in whole blood samples must be washed out before being used for transplant – causing significant loss of other stem cells. Volume reduced cord blood storage gets rid of unnecessary extra cells from the outset and makes the sample easier to cryogenically freeze.
#2: Red blood cells can be dangerous during transplant
Even when a patient and donor are perfectly matched for transplant, they may have different blood types. Therefore if red blood cells are in the sample, they might trigger a negative reaction. Another danger is that red blood cells usually rupture during the freezing and thawing process and split the cells’ contents. Infusing such samples during treatment can have serious and even life-threatening results in patients. Choosing the volume reduced storage method obviously eliminates these risks!
#3: Stem cell recovery rate is strong
Most automated processing systems used in cord blood banks have an excellent recovery rate of stem cells needed for engraftment. At Future Health Biobank, our state-of-the-art technology enables up to 99% recovery rate pre-freeze, leaving the most stem cells possible in your sample and giving your child a higher chance of successful treatment in future.
#4: Easy to identify and separate desirable stem cells
When a volume reduced cord blood sample is thawed after freezing, scientists can easily see the stem cells they want to keep versus the ones that should be removed. Without the cellular debris caused by broken RBCs, post-thaw sample tests are also clearer to interpret.
#5: Reduced-volume storage is an FDA-licensed process
Both in terms of laboratory use and patient care, the industry standard is for cord blood banks to perform the volume reduced method before cryopreservation. Most cord blood banks that hold an FDA license use this method to deplete RBCs and plasma.
Want to learn more about cord blood stem cell storage? Visit our service pages to find out how we incorporate umbilical cord collection and storage into your birth plan.