Why is it important to find a reliable private cord blood bank?
Making the life-changing decision to store your newborn baby’s stem cells can be a daunting task. Finding a reliable family bank is crucial. If the cord blood bank doesn’t have high standards for handling, processing and storage these may affect your baby’s precious cord blood collected.
If a bank isn’t financially stable, where and how your baby’s cord blood is stored long term could be affected. So if you shop for a bank based on price and promo offers, the bank you select may not meet the quality standards required. If the day comes when your child needs the cord blood stem cells, you’ll want to feel confident that it was properly processed, stored and viable for use when the need arises.
The following guidelines may help your decision making as to which bank you would prefer to store your baby’s cord blood and or cord lining / tissue:
COMPANY WITH EXCELLENT FINANCIAL CREDIBILITY AND STABILITY
Is the bank financially strong, stable and transparent?
A GOOD INDICATION OF WHETHER A COMPANY WILL BE AROUND IN THE FUTURE IS HOW LONG THEY HAVE BEEN IN BUSINESS. Look for a bank that possesses a strong track record. Look at the business experience of the company. How long has it been banking cord blood? When you decide to bank your baby’s stem cells, you are about to secure a long term protection for your child. Check if the company has strong affiliation with other reputable cord blood banks or part of a stem cell banking group and that its business is being competently managed. A strong, financially stable and transparent company can be your assurance that your baby’s stem cell are securely and safely stored for years to come.
BANK EXPERIENCE – NUMBER OF STEM CELLS UNITS STORED.
How long has the bank been established? How many clients’ stem cells stored?
How many years the bank been established and how many cord blood stem cells units stored would tell you that those clients have entrusted the company with their child’s cord blood stem cells storage. This is an indication that those parents have the trust and confidence with the bank. You should also take into account the years of experience and accountable transparency, management of the company, its commitment and reputation in its performance and services.
LABORATORY STANDARDS, LICENSED STORAGE & BACK UP FACILITY
Does the company’s laboratory meet the quality standards required? Is it licensed and approved by recognized authority?
Expectant parents should clarify and verify with the company on the licences and regulatory standards required to operate a laboratory for stem cell processing and storage. The strategic location of the laboratory should also be taken into consideration, whether it is easily accessible and close to hospitals as time is of the essence for treatment facilitation. Last but not least, does the Company’s laboratory have power contingency plan to mitigate power failure, fire outbreak, theft and break-in, flood etc.?
DOES THE BANK HAVE CLINICAL EXPERIENCE? PROVEN TRACK RECORD? TRANSPLANTATIONS DONE?
Any transplants done? Are the cells still viable for use from the storage tanks?
Experience releasing cord blood for transplants and participating in experimental therapies is an indication that the company is successful with clinical applications of cord blood. It confirms that the cord blood stored is viable for therapies. A bank with the know-how and the number of successful stem cell transplantations performed with the collaboration of the medical doctors simply tells you of the bank’s experience and the stored stem cells are viable for transplantation treatments.
Does the lab have any accreditations or certifications from relevant authorities?
There are a few renowned accrediting agencies that ensure and monitor laboratory’s quality of services, specifically for cord blood laboratory. For example:
- ISO15189 – It verifies the recognition of the laboratory’s competence in laboratory management system and its technical practice in lab testing. The lab’s daily processes are also subjected to scrutiny by experienced lab directors from around the country.
- CAP (College of American Pathologists) and RCPA – Participated by all the most renown laboratories in the world. It validates a lab’s screening processes in the areas of haematology, virology and microbiology.
INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP. NEW TECHNOLOGY. RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
Any advance technology developments and R&D?
With the progress of medical science and scientific technology advancement, the company that goes the extra mile in research, clinical trials and technology development will be able to discover more possible treatments for you and your family. Also, through associated R&D partners (especially at global level), more applications / trials can be diversified and the potential of stem cell treatments can be maximized.
Is the cord blood being transported safely and efficiently? Does the bank provide this assurance in writing?
The first crucial step is for the collected cord blood and cord lining from hospital / clinic to be transported to the laboratory as soon as possible. Time is of the essence to ensure that live cells are sent to the laboratory for processing in optimal conditions for storage. The stem cells present in the freshly collected cord blood and cord lining are fragile and sensitive to temperature and should be carefully handled by a team of specially trained qualified dedicated personnel.
COMPREHENSIVE TESTING AND SCREENING OF CELLS
Does the bank carry out comprehensive testing and screening?
Comprehensive testing and screening should be carried out for every cord blood collection:
- Cord blood volume collected
- Number of total nucleated cells (TNC)
- Number of CD34+ cells and viability
- Baby’s blood group
- Infectious diseases* (eg Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Syphilis, HIV, CMV) for cord blood and maternal blood
- Contamination test
*as requested by National Standards for Cord Blood Banking and Transplantation issued by Ministry of Health Malaysia.
For cord lining collected, a complete verification tests should include the following:
- Microbial test for bacteria and fungi – To prove the units are cleared of any contamination
- Biomarker test / Phenotyping test – To verify the presence of target cell(s) in tissue
- Tissue verification test through cell expansion – To verify the targeted cells are viable and can be expanded