The Healthcord Advantage
Cord blood banking is a complex process that requires expertise in multiple areas. From scientific procedures to customer service, Healthcord’s experience ensures that your family will receive a high quality product:
Science is the most important consideration in cord blood banking, and is also one of Healthcord’s greatest assets. As one of the only cord blood banks founded and led by Ph.D. scientists, Healthcord is guided by an evidence-based approach. We do what is best for our clients, including the use of state-of-the-art equipment that are often not implemented in other labs, but which can make a difference in the quality of your child’s sample. Below is an overview of some of the technologies that we use.
Preferred Collection Methods
Blood Bag Collection
Blood bag collection has become the international standard for collection of cord blood, and is recommended over the older method of drawing blood from the umbilical cord with large syringes. The collection of blood into blood bags results in a more sterile micro-environment and allows more blood to be collected by reducing the potential of clotting.
Physician Assisted Collection
Cord blood is collected by healthcare professionals, including obstetricians and other delivering physicians, midwives, and nurses who receive detailed instructions and support for cord blood collection from Healthcord.
Superior Processing Methods
Healthcord uses a closed-system processing that requires the use of specialized instruments, such as a RF heat sealer and sterile tubing welder. These instruments, along with use of integrated transfer/freezing bags, increase the safety of banked products by reducing the risk of sample infection. As this equipment costs tens of thousands of dollars, and their use increases the cost of processing, many cord blood banks are unwilling or unable to adopt these advanced technologies, placing their patient samples at increased risk of infection.
Computer-Operated Controlled-Rate Freezing
One of the most important aspects of cryopreservation is proper cooling. As can be seen from frostbite, uncontrolled freezing can cause tissue death. Computer Controlled addition of cryopreservant results in proper ‘vitrification’ as opposed to freezing. Vitrification causes biological processes in a cell to slow down to essentially zero, ‘freezing’ the cell in time; however, freezing causes irrecoverable cell damage to tissues. All cord blood at Healthcord is frozen using controlled rate freezers. Many labs will instead try to emulate controlled rate freezing by moving samples from a refrigerator to a freezer before putting it in nitrogen. While these labs are able to save a lot on equipment and nitrogen costs, unfortunately, they expose their patients’ samples to undue risk during the delicate freezing process.
Healthcord performs enumeration of CD34+ cells using the most accurate and advanced methods. By using a single platform approach, Healthcord is able to get a more standardized and accurate measure of the total number of the critical stem cells, ensuring that if your sample is used in the future, the dosage of the unit is accurate.
Preferred Safe Storage
Next-Generation Vapor Phase Storage Tanks
Next-Generation Vapor Phase Storage Tanks are used by Healthcord exclusively for all our samples. The use of nitrogen vapour essentially eliminates the risk of cross-infection of your child’s cord blood sample by communicable diseases from other samples. Healthcord is one of few laboratories using this technology exclusively.
Older liquid phase storage systems store cord blood directly in liquid nitrogen. Due to the extremly low cryogenic temperatures, cracks often develop in the containers holding the cord blood. In liquid phase storage, the real possibility exists that your child’s cord blood can be exposed to cord blood from another child. Since thousands of cord blood samples from different children are stored in a full tank, the possibility of infected (e.g. CMV, HIV, and especially untested diseases) blood contaminating your child’s blood is a real risk.
Some laboratories seek to mitigate this risk by double-bagging their cord blood, but even so, there is no guarantee. Since vapor phase storage reduces the possibility of sample cross-contamination due to liquid-mediate transfer of infectious agents, some laboratories store samples in the vapour phase in tanks designed for liquid storage. Since such tanks are not designed for vapour phase use, samples stored in such tanks are subject to extrem temperature variations that can affect cell viability.
Other laboratories have attempted to use electrically cooled tanks. However, the danger of a prolonged power outage can put such freezers at extrem risk, and furthermore, many electrically cooled tanks cannot achieve the same low temperatures of nitrogen storage.
Next generation tanks however designed specifically for vapour storage allow samples to be stored in the vapour phase while achieving the low temperatures of liquid nitrogen. Healthcord is one of the first facilities in Canada to rely solely upon vapour phase storage.
Processed cord blood is potentially used in the treatment of disease, and it is therefore considered to be a ‘biologic drug’. Healthcord is committed to assuring that the quality of processing and storage meet or exceed all specifications and guidelines set forth by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Health Canada, and the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB).
Healthcord processes your child’s cord blood in a sterile environment to prevent the possibility of contamination by any infectious agents.
Clinical Grade Reagents
Industrial and research grade chemicals are not intended for human use. Healthcord uses clinical grade reagents in the processing of umbilical cord blood and where possible, it uses injection grade materials. This increases the safety of the stored cord blood. Chemical contaminants can be detrimental in a child who is in a fragile state and in need of a stem cell transplant. Healthcord takes extensive measures to ensure your child’s safety.
Comprehensive Maternal Infectious Disease Testing
Comprehensive Maternal Infectious Disease Testing is important to ensure that the child’s cord blood is not potentially exposed to infectious agents that may compromise the child if the cord blood is ever used for transplantation.
Healthcord is based in Canada and specializes in cord blood banking for Canadians. Canadian health regulations are more stringent than those of many other countries, and it is important to choose a Canadian cord blood bank. However, Healthcord uses state-of-the-art equipment that rivals or is better than that used anywhere else in the World. Additionally, not only does Healthcord serve the major metropolitan areas throughout Canada, but assists clients in smaller communities that wish to store their children’s cord blood. At Healthcord, your child’s health is our top priority.
Stability is an important reason to bank with Healthcord. To meet its mission of insuring the health of the child, Healthcord does not expose itself to unnecessary risks such as listing itself on the stock market, which would expose itself and therefore the well-being of banked samples, to the volatilities of the stock market. Being underwritten by a stable biotechnology corporation, Healthcord is committed to being around as long as you need your child’s sample to be banked.
Excellence in Patient Service
At Healthcord, the health of your child is our primary concern. Cord blood banking is not a simple matter of putting cord blood into liquid nitrogen; it is a complex process requiring validated procedures performed under controlled conditions in order to optimize the recovery and viability of stem cells to assure a quality product when, and if it should ever be required. Consultation with friendly cord blood banking advisors is part of the cost of banking with Healthcord.
Healthcord is Canada’s trusted name in family cord blood banking. At Healthcord, many important steps are undertaken in the processing and storage of your child’s cord blood so you don’t have to worry. Our ‘Patient-First’ philosophy is evident in everything we do.There are many reasons to bank with Healthcord, but perhaps the most important is the same reason why you chose to consider banking your child’s cord blood in the first place: For peace of mind, and the security of knowing that your child’s cord blood is available and ready if it is ever needed.