The first reason is that it’s the industry standard in the UK, and globally. Both the NHS Cord Blood Bank and the Anthony Nolan Trust store volume reduced samples, as do the majority of public and private banks around the world. Smart Cells use processing technologies similar to those employed by many public banks. Volume reduction prior to freezing using the methodology we use, specifically preserves the all-important stem cells.
The second reason is that it’s safer. The freezing process used to preserve the stem cells in the sample damages the red blood cells, which means there’s a lot of debris and free haemoglobin in the sample when it’s thawed. In turn this can result in post-transplant complications. The volume reduction method reduces the red blood cell content.
The reason why red blood cells are dangerous to patients is that they tend not to survive the freezing and thawing process. Red blood cells undergo “lysis” during cryopreservation, a rupture of the cell membrane that spills the cell’s contents, which include the haemoglobin and empty membrane sacks called red cell ”ghosts”. These lysed red cell elements can cause complications for patients including kidney, cardiac and respiratory problems at the time of transplant.
As the volume reduced method reduces the red blood cell content, this has the added benefit of minimizing reactions in the patient due to blood type incompatibility if the sample is being used for a brother or a sister.
What do the experts think?
Why store volume reduced?
“B188.8.131.52 Cord blood units that have not been red cell reduced prior to cryopreservation shall be washed prior to administration.
For cord blood units, the NMDP requires washing of red cell replete CB units due to unexpected adverse events”.
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