Are you looking for a cord blood banking facility and not sure how to start your search? Here are some tips to keep in mind when looking for a facility to store your baby's precious cord blood.
First and foremost, look for a facility that is accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) and the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB).
- FACT is the only accrediting organization that develops standards for both clinical and laboratory requirements. The major objective of the Cord Blood Banking Standards "is to promote quality medical and laboratory practices and banking to achieve consistent production of high quality placental and umbilical cord blood units for administration."
- The AABB is an international non-profit organization which develops standards and guidelines for institutions involved in transfusion medicine and cellular therapies.
Research the company. The Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Foundation provides the following questions to ask your potential cord blood facility:
- What instructional tools are provided for the physician and delivery staff?
- Will the cord blood company contact the labor and delivery staff or are you responsible for doing so?
- What collection method do they use: gravity drip or blood draw?
- Is the collection blood bag sterile, both inside and out, so that it can be used in the operating room for a C-section?
- Do they provide the option of collecting additional stem cells from the placenta or tissue of the umbilical cord? (If so, what is the cost?)
- Is the family cord blood bank a publicly-held or privately-held company?
- Is the company affiliated with a hospital or research institution?
- Is the company involved in bio-technology research and development?
- What other medical services does the company perform?
- How long has the company been banking cord blood?
- Who directs the day-to-day business of the company?
- What is the lab inventory of cord blood collections, both public and private?
- How many cord blood collections has the bank released from their own lab for therapy?
- Is the cord blood laboratory accredited by an agency that has specific standards for cord blood banks and conducts inspections?
- Some US states license cord blood banks (CA, MD, NJ, NY): Do they operate in those states?
- Does the lab process cord blood around the clock, or only on selected shifts?
- What tests does the lab perform on maternal blood?
- What tests does the lab perform for infectious disease markers?
- What tests does the lab perform for contamination?
- Does the lab ever reject cord blood collections on the basis of the tests of maternal blood, infectious diseases, or contamination?
- Does the lab maintain a "quarantine tank" for the storage of blood that might be able to transmit an infection?
- What tests does the lab perform to measure the stem cell count of the processed cord blood and the stem cell viability?
- Does the lab/bank inform parents, prior to storage, if the collection is too small for a transplant, and give them the option not to save it?
- Does the lab/bank offer parents a refund if the cord blood collection has certain problems (contamination, low volume)?
- What information will parents receive in the final report about their stored cord blood?
- Is the enrollment fee charged once per family, or for each birth?
- Is the first year of storage included in the processing fee?
- Is the storage fee guaranteed fixed?
- Are there any coupons currently available?
- Are there any professional discounts?
- Do parents have the option of a partial or full refund if they decide not to store the cord blood for any reason?
- Should the family ever need the cord blood, is there a charge to release it?
- Is the cost of shipping included in the contract?
- Does the shipping company offer bed-side pick-up?
- On weekends, are the laboratory staff in-house or on-call?
- Does the bank guarantee to get the blood to the lab and processed within a certain time window? (Note: Best practice time frame is within 48 hours)
- Does the shipping container have a temperature logger? (Note: Standard temperature during transportation of cord blood should be 15 °C (59 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F))
- If the bank uses a courier, does the courier have possession of the cord blood throughout transit?
- What type of records do parents receive after storage?
- Does your contract state that the storage fee is fixed, or may it increase later?
- Does the bank reserve the right, in your contract, to change storage facilities?
- Does the bank operate their own storage facility, or is it provided by another laboratory?
- What type of accreditation or other certifications does the storage facility carry? In most banks the cord blood is stored in the lab where it was processed, and the accreditation of the lab covers the storage conditions.
- What is the geographic location of the storage facility: Is it at risk for hurricanes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters?
- What type of back-up systems does the storage facility have in case of power failure?
- What type of security systems does the storage facility have?
The following are recommended procedures for Cord Blood Banks1
- Cord blood should be collected in a bag containing citrate-phosphate-dextrose anticoagulant
- Cord blood should be processed and frozen within 48 h of collection
- Standardized freezing and storage conditions should be followed
- Segments should be attached to the cord blood for testing and confirmation of identity
- Extra cells and plasma should be stored for potential additional testing
- FDA regulations regarding infectious disease testing should be followed
- Banks should be accredited by FACT and follow FACT cord blood banking standards
- Cord blood units should be stored under liquid nitrogen or at equivalent temperatures
- Look for a facility that has been in business for 5 or more years. This will allow you to look at the company's history of storing and transplanting cord blood stem cells. You will see how financially stable the company is.
- Inquire about the facility’s success rate for transplants using stored cells from their facility.
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Author : Diba Tillery RN, BSN, IBCLC, CPST