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Cord Blood Stored in Ukraine
May 2022: Cord Blood banks in Kyiv are operational again.
11 March 2022: The main thing for parents to know about the cord blood units stored in Ukraine is that so far they have been preserved. Under the current circumstances, the stored units should remain safe for at least another two months.
Once cord blood stem cells have been cryogenically frozen and placed into a storage tank, the tank will remain at the required cryogenic temperature so long as the liquid nitrogen level is maintained. No electricity is needed. Maintaining the storage simply requires that some one occasionally top off the liquid nitrogen levels in the tanks.
There are two cord blood banks that have laboratories in Kyiv, Ukraine: Hemafund and the Institute of Cell Therapy. Both of these banks have taken security precautions that are typical of cord blood banks everywhere. It is normal for cord blood laboratories to have back up power supplies and large tanks of reserve liquid nitrogen. Another common feature is a system of security cameras throughout the inside and outside of the bank. In addition, due to the current situation in Kyiv, staff from the bank are living in the laboratory. This is both for their own safety and to guard the facility.
The two banks in Kyiv are about 15 km apart and their locations pose different advantages versus disadvantages. The cord blood laboratory for the Institute of Cell Therapy is on the ground floor of maternity hospital number 3, located in an urban area of Kyiv. This should be safe so long as the hospital is not bombed. Unfortunately, several maternity hospitals in Ukraine have already been bombed. The laboratory of Hemafund is in a residential area next to woods on the northern edge of Kyiv, away from heavily populated areas. However, it is very close to a major highway that rings Kyiv, which Russian tanks are trying to use, and therefore this road could become the scene of fighting. The biggest hardship faced by both banks is the traumatic disruption of life for their employees. Ukraine is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.
For this bulletin, we were not able to obtain any photos from the Institute of Cell Therapy, but the following photo collage shows life at the Hemafund laboratory for the staff that have stayed to maintain the stored units and protect the building.