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Process and storage of umbilical cord blood

What to know about cord blood?

The contact between the embryo and the placenta is ensured by the umbilical cord. Nutrients and oxygen is provided for the embryo by the cord blood flowing in the umbilical cord. Cord blood is developed in the early stage of the embryonic development and is continuously being produced. Consequently, the umbilical cord blood does not contain mother-origin cells but only embryonic cells, including embryonic stem cells.

The length of the umbilical cord may vary between 30 cm and 100 cm, thus the volume of the cord blood in it may also be rather different. The average volume is between 50 ml and 120 ml but there are frequent cases with the volume of below 40 ml. In extreme cases the volume can be over 150 ml. The cellular and non cellular composition of the umbilical cord blood is identical to that of the healthy adult blood. The ratio of the certain cell types is practically identical to the adult blood, with the exception of the quantity and the percentage of stem cells. Considering that all the cells of the embryo are developed from stem cells, it is not surprising that at the end of the embryonic life – i.e. at birth – stem cells are in surplus in the blood thus in the cord blood of the new-born.

Umbilical cord blood can only be collected after the umbilical cord had been cut. It is important to note that the whole procedure of umbilical cord blood collection is completely painless. There is no risk either for the mother or the baby. If the parents do not dispose of the collection and storage of the stem cells found in the umbilical cord, this extremely valuable biological substance – i.e. the umbilical cord blood – is to be destroyed after birth.

Collection of umbilical cord blood:

Umbilical cord blood can be collected if prior to the birth of the baby the would-be parents have expressed their wish to provide an opportunity of stem cell therapy for the baby in case in the future no autologous stem cells could be collected from the baby itself. In addition, cord blood can also be collected if the mother gives her consent to donate the umbilical cord blood of the baby.

Umbilical cord blood is collected only if there are no exclusion criteria. All the possible causes that might lead to the failure of the future application of the cord blood belong to the exclusion criteria.

Umbilical cord blood is collected by trained and experienced obstetricians or midwives at the Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of the University of Debrecen.

The procedure is performed directly after the umbilical cord has been cut and clipped, after the birth of the baby but prior to the birth of the placenta. Cord blood is collected from the end of the umbilical cord closer to the placenta into a specifically designed sterile cord blood collection set.

Process and storage of cord blood:

The collected umbilical cord blood is processed and stored at the Cell Therapy Laboratory according to the conditions laid in the contract; storage is guaranteed for up to 20 years. Before the expiry of the contract there is also an opportunity to prolong the storage.

According to references it is assumed that processed and frozen stem cells can limitlessly preserve their viability and applicability. There are stem cells that have been stored in frozen state for 40 years. The stored cells are at the disposal of the proprietor at any time.