Frequently Asked Questions

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Shipping & Handling

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Do I need to store the cord blood in the country where I plan to use it?
No.  First, you must store blood in a lab that is permitted by the regulations of the country where you will give birth.  Second, you should store cord blood in a lab that can receive and process the collection within 48 hours of birth.  After cord blood is collected at birth, the stem cells start to die while the blood is waiting to be processed and frozen.  The quicker it gets to the lab the better.  By comparison, if you ever need the cord blood for therapy, it will be shipped in a vessel that keeps it frozen.  When cord blood is released for therapy can travel to the other side of the world with no loss of viability, because it travels frozen.  It is only thawed at the clinic where it will be used. 
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Recommendations from Parent's Guide to Cord Blood
  • Educate expectant parents about all their options for cord blood (Education)
  • Choose a family bank that meets all your national and local regulations, plus has been inspected by an accreditation agency (Lab Standards)
  • Choose a family bank that uses a specialized courier to transport cord blood (Find a Family Bank), or in some countries the family can hire a specialized courier directly (Shipping & Handling).
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What are the most important considerations in picking a family bank?
1. Nationality - You must follow the national regulations of the country where you will give birth.
2. Travel conditions - It is best to pick a bank that can receive and process the cord blood within 48 hours of birth.  It is also best for the cord blood to be shipped in a transport container that will maintain it at close to "room temperature". 
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What is the allowed time window for shipping cord blood to the lab?
Public cord blood banks throughout the world have adopted a time window of 48 hours as the maximum delay from birth to the initiation of lab processing.  It would be a "best practice" if family banks also followed the 48 hour window.

Some data points:
  • FACT accreditation standards require the 48 hour window for public donations but allow 72 hours for family banks.
  • AABB accreditation standards do not specify a time window.
  • The US FDA recommends the 48 hour window.
  • The US state of NY Dept. of Health requires a 48 hour window. 


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What questions should parents ask a Family Bank about Shipping & Handling?
  • 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?
  • Does the shipping container have a temperature logger?
  • If the bank uses a courier, does the courier have possession of the cord blood throughout transit?  (ie: Does the courier sub-contract to another shipping company that is not a medical courier)? 
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Why is it important to ship cord blood with a special courier?
The Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Foundation recommends shipping with a courier that has a division specializing in "Life Sciences" transport.  This helps to insure that your critical shipment is not misplaced, arrives promptly, and is maintained within the acceptable temperature range during transport from the hospital to the lab.

The first priority for parents to consider is the cord blood shipping time: Once the cord blood is harvested, the blood cells and stem cells gradually begin to die.  Public cord blood banks set a limit of 48 hours on the time between birth and processing the blood for cryogenic storage.  It would be a "best practice" if family banks also followed the 48 hour window.

The second priority for parents to consider is the cord blood shipping temperature:  The standard procedure for transporting fresh cord blood is to keep it within an ambient temperature range of 15 °C (59 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F).  Priority shipping services may guarantee the arrival time, but not the temperature conditions during transit.  The cord blood might get too hot or too cold while sitting in the back of a truck, on a loading dock, or in the cargo hold of an airplane.  A specialty courier with Life Sciences expertise will carry the cord blood in a controlled environment.

Parents can improve the survival of their child's cells during transit to the cord blood laboratory by selecting a family bank that provides a well insulated shipping container and that provides a specialty courier who maintains the shipment within the desired temperature range.  In many countries it is standard practice for the shipping container to have a temperature logger.

In the United States, the post 9/11 security requirements of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) require that specialty couriers can only offer cord blood shipping through those cord blood banks that are registered with the TSA as a "Known Shipper".  Before 9/11, specialty couriers could market their services directly to consumers, and in some countries this is still possible.  Parents should check if a Family Bank offers specialty courier services before they sign a contract.