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.