Collecting Cord Blood Stem Cells: What You MUST Know
Stem cells are precursor cells that can differentiate into mature and specialized adult cells of different types. Stem cells are very helpful in the treatment of various diseases of blood and immune system origin, including many cancers.
Adult stem cells can be obtained from bone marrow and from the cord blood (blood in the umbilical cord at the time of delivery of the child) and the placenta (sac that holds the baby during pregnancy). The obtained cord blood and the placenta is then processed and preserved in liquid nitrogen to be used if the need arises at any point of time. The stored stem cells remain viable once preserved, for over 20 years.
Collecting the cord blood stem cells for preservation has to be planned well in advance before the delivery of the child. A stem cell bank is identified that is close to the place where the delivery is supposed to happen (unless courier service is arranged). Once such a bank has been found and all the initial formalities are completed, the cord blood bank must be contacted close to the time of the delivery (around 48 hours before) when blood from the mother is drawn and sent to test for any communicable diseases that may be present.
Collecting the cord blood stem cells is performed by the doctors delivering of the child. It is important to collect a sufficient amount of cord blood (around 75 ml at least) for it to contain an adequate amount of stem cells for preservation. The procedure of collecting the cord blood stem cells is conducted when the umbilical vein is still pulsating.
A special collection bag designed for the purpose of collecting the cord blood stem cells is used for this purpose. This bag has a connected needle at one end that is inserted into the umbilical vein, and the bag is lowered down to allow the cord blood to flow into the bag. This is held in place until enough blood has been collected in the bag. If the blood flow stops before adequate collection is complete, the needle is removed and re-inserted to resume the blood flow until the cord is totally devoid of any more blood after which the needle is removed.
Once the collection of the cord blood stem cells and the placenta is completed, the specialized containers are then transported in exact temperature conditions suited for this purpose to the cell bank where they are disinfected, processed, preservative added and then slowly cooled to reach a temperature of -190 degrees Celsius at which it is stored.
Collecting the cord blood stem cells is a very simple procedure that takes just around 2-5 minutes, but it is very important for the professional handling the cord blood to take care that they don’t contaminate the specimen as it may affect the viability and storage of the stem cells.