Everyday expecting families reach out to ViaCord to talk cord blood. In our conversations that cover everything from the value of storing cord blood stem cells to how cord blood is collected at the hospital and then processed in our laboratory, one common question we hear is, “How long does cord blood last? Does it ever expire?” Families want to know that when they choose to bank their baby’s cord blood, if it’s ever needed – even years down the road – that their frozen cord blood will offer a viable treatment option.
The quick answer: to date, there is no evidence that it will ever expire. 1
The most comprehensive research on this topic comes from Dr. Hal Broxmeyer, a pioneering cord blood scientist and renowned microbiologist and immunologist, who has studied cord blood for more than two decades. More specifically, in 2003 his team published a pivotal study that showed cord blood units were still viable 15 years after being cryogenically frozen.2 Dr. Broxmeyer and his colleagues went on to extend this finding in 2011, with research that proves cord blood cells can be effective in treatment after being cryogenically stored for 21 years.*1
In this latest study, laboratory tests showed that after 21 years of cryogenic preservation the thawed cord blood stem cells could be transplanted and could still engraft and help an immune system create new healthy stem cells. Engraftment is one key indicator of transplant success.
Dr. Broxmeyer’s studies don’t give any reason to think banked cord blood won’t last far longer than 21 years. In fact, the New York Department of Health concluded that properly stored cord blood units can stay viable indefinitely.3 This delivers important peace of mind; if you bank your baby’s cord blood, know this valuable medical resource will be available for your family if it’s ever needs – whether that’s in two years or 22.
For nearly 20 years, ViaCord has been providing the highest quality, umbilical cord blood stem cell collections for families. We’ve preserved nearly 300,000 cord blood collections and released more related cord blood units for transplants and infusions than any other cord blood company. Of course, we hope families never need to use their stored cord blood, but thanks to dedicated researchers like Dr. Broxmeyer, you can take comfort in knowing the facts.
* A range of recoveries was evident. Success is determined on a case by case basis.
1. Broxmeyer HE, et al. Hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, generation of induced pluripotent stem cells, and isolation of endothelial progenitors from 21 – 23.5-year cryopreserved cord blood. Blood. 2011. 117(18): 4773-4777. doi:10.1182/blood-2011-01-330514 http://bloodjournal.hematologylibrary.org/content/117/18/4773.full.pdf
2. Broxmeyer HE et al. High-efficiency recovery of functional hematopoietic progenitor and stem cells from human cord blood cryopreserved for 15 years. PNAS. January 21, 2003 100(2):645-50. http://www.pnas.org/content/100/2/645.full.pdf
3. Linden JV, Preti RA, Dracker R. New York state guidelines for cord blood banking. Journal of Hematotherapy. 1997;6:535-41.