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NECBB and Cord Blood Banking in Latin America
About twenty years ago, New England Cord Blood Bank (NECBB) became the first family cord blood bank in the world to pursue a multi-national business model. From their home base in Boston, USA, they established partnerships with marketing companies throughout Latin America. Today, NECBB offers family banking of cord blood and cord tissue in both the United States, as well as nearly a dozen Latin American countries, shown on the accompanying map.
The cord blood laboratory of NECBB is currently located in Marlborough Massachusetts, just outside Boston. Their spacious facility houses over 30,000 square feet of laboratory space dedicated to both processing and long term storage of stem cells. The main laboratory holds 13 biosafety cabinets, enabling them to operate at high capacity on the busiest days. There is an additional research laboratory where NECBB continually evaluates new tools and technologies to optimize their processing of stem cells. The facility is supported by a backup generator capable to power all laboratory and storage functions for weeks on end. Towering over the facility is a 9,000 gallon liquid nitrogen tank which guarantees that samples in storage will stay cryopreserved in any emergency.
NECBB is a subsidiary of the New England Cryogenic Center (NECC), one of the nation’s largest sperm banks. The entire organization, combining fertility services and stem cell banking, was founded and built by the husband and wife team of John and Cathy Rizza. The company continues to be privately owned and debt-free, which enables them to under-price most competitors.
“Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves” – John Rizza, co-founder of NECC & NECBB
Cord blood banking in Latin America operates in a different language and culture from the US market. Each marketing partner must deal with the regulations in their country and any political instability. The home office of NECBB provides strong support with educational materials for both parents and obstetricians.
In Latin America, cord blood sales representatives meet with parents face to face, either in the parents’ home or at the company office. This high touch approach helps to build strong client relationships. Many parents in Latin America feel a sense of quality and security by sending their child’s stem cells to a laboratory in the United States.
An additional service offered by NECBB is storage of stem cells from dental pulp, which preserves a form of mesenchymal cell. This service operates from the same facility under the name National Dental Pulp Laboratory. Dental pulp storage offers the bank an additional source of revenue, but also carries the responsibility of additional education efforts, to help parents understand the difference between dental pulp storage versus cord blood storage. Staff of NECBB follow this field closely and routinely attend meetings of professional dental associations.
NECBB is breaking new ground by building relationships with insurance providers in Latin America. In Peru, they work with the company that provides health insurance to employees of small businesses.
These days, the chief executive officer of NECBB is Joe Rizza, the son of the original founders. At NECBB, support for cord blood education and research is part of the company values. NECBB recently donated $10,000 from their United States sales to the Cord Blood Association to support Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg’s research towards new clinical applications of cord blood.
“I believe in karma” – Cathy Rizza, co-founder of NECC & NECBB
Cord blood industry news has been buzzing this summer about the concept of combining fertility services with cord blood banking, something that NECBB has been doing for two decades. There have also been news reports about a single company operating in multiple Latin American countries, another activity that NECBB has been doing for two decades. NECBB will continue to operate as a family owned business that avoids high stakes financial ventures and has a strong focus on international customer service.