Questions you need to ask about stem cell banking

cord blood basics

Your little one comes into this world with lifesaving stem cells present inside the umbilical cord. Preserving these umbilical cord stem cells at birth is a one time opportunity that provides a lifetime of good health for your child. Stem cell banking service is a globally accepted healthcare practice that ensures the viability of the stored stem cells for decades. In India, there are many stem cell banks that offer umbilical cord stem cell banking for parents but it is crucial to identify the right stem cell bank which follows international quality standards and efficient processing & preservation protocols.

Here are some of the questions that parents must ask stem cell banks before enrolling for their service:

1. Are there any national and international accreditations?

Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR) has set many quality standards for stem cell banks. The banks should also have accreditations from international bodies such as AABB (American Association Of Blood Banks), FDA etc., for globally accepted quality standards in terms of technology, laboratories, equipments used etc. It is important to ask whether they have renewed these accreditations to ensure quality standards.

2. What is the financial situation of the company?

Check whether the company is private or publicly held. A publicly traded company is financially stable and you can review their full financial position. Private companies are also safe if they have good financial backup so that they can stay in the business for long term. Cord blood banking is not a onetime deal so it is important to understand the financial status of the company.

3. Are you enrolling with the company directly?

While signing up for stem cell banking service, check if it is the marketer or the company that owns the bank? Directly signing up with the stem cell bank is better than contracting with marketers who rely on other stem cells banks for lab technology and storage facility. Marketers concentrate on sales and they will not take responsibility if the lab fails in future.

4. What is their experience and how many samples are stored?

A reputed bank should have at least 5 years of experience in the field. Ask your potential stem cell bank about their years of operation, experience of their technical teams and staff, certifications of their laboratory directors and their research developments. Ensure that the number of samples preserved by the stem cell bank is in thousands or more.

5. How is the umbilical cord samples processed?

The volume of viable stem cells extracted from the samples depends on the processing technique used by the stem cell bank. There are different technologies used by banks so it is important to enquire about the efficiency of their processing and preservation techniques. If the stem cell bank employs manual processing, it will allow the technologist to extract a larger volume of stem cells as they can look at the sample and its variables in depth. An automation technique also has its perks: quick processing and lesser chance of manual errors.

If the bank preserves umbilical cord tissue (cord itself), ask about their stem cell extraction process. Some banks store the full umbilical cord as it is cheap and easy but it slows down the retrieval process at the time of transplant. Ensure the bank processes the cord tissue and stores only the extracted stem cells.

6. How are the samples stored?

Usually, samples preserved in two portions are preferable because the viability and sterility of the stem cells can be tested for potential transplant without disturbing the entire sample. Also, if the samples are stored in 2 different locations, they have better chance of safety from natural calamities. Ask if your potential stem cell bank can preserve the samples in two portions and in two different locations.

7. Are there any successful transplants performed with the bank’s samples?

Check if there are any successful transplants using the samples preserved in their bank. Having at least one successful transplant proves that their technology works but it is better to have a few more transplants showing positive outcomes.

8. Is the storage fee fixed or subjected to change in the future?

It is important to know the storage price up front so, ask if they have a fixed plan for stem cell banking service. Some banks offer an initial payment followed by yearly subscription fee for 21 years. However, the price may change when you may want to extend the subscription after 21 years so look for convenient lifetime storage plans.


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