Are you soon to have a little bundle of joy in the family and thinking about stem cell banking? In India, many parents show interest in preserving the umbilical cord stem cells of their baby through cord blood banking. Umbilical cord stem cellshave the potential to provide a lifetime of good health if preserved properly right after childbirth. These stem cells do not have expiration date so they can be preserved for a desired period time and can be retrieved when required for transplant. Stem cells have the ability to treat various medical conditions As there are many private stem cell banks offering this service, it is crucial to choose the right banking partner. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has set various standards for stem cell banks in India. Apart from these standards, a good bank should also ensure quality, state of the art facilities and a track record of experience & customer service. Parents should check the below criteria before signing up for stem cell banking in private cord blood banks:

1. Availability of trained paramedics

The collection of umbilical cord blood is an important process because it requires well trained nursing or paramedic staff to safely perform the procedure. An expert paramedic can collect good volume of blood from the umbilical cord without any clot or contamination. More volume of blood collected from umbilical cord is proportional to more number of stem cells.

2.Transportation of samples

Government regulations require the collected cord blood samples to reach the laboratory within 72 hours while maintaining the temperature below 25 degree Celsius suitable for processing. Thus, the stem cell banks should have excellent logistics providers to transport the samples with above mentioned requirements.

3.Quality of equipments

The materials used for collection and processing of samples such a collection vials, bags, cryogenic storage bags, chemicals and equipments used in processing must fulfil global quality standards. The AABB international accreditation organisation mandates that the processing materials should be either approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or relevant authority to carry out the cord blood banking service. In other words, the bank will not be able to get AABB accreditation if the materials are not up to global standards.

4.Efficient processing technique

Check if the stem cell bank has a technology that offers high stem cell recovery from the blood sample and reduced microbial contamination by following quality protocols. Many stem cell banks promise advanced technologies but it is important to know whether the quality and quantity of stem cells recovered are up to international standards.

5. Location of storage sites

Banks can store the final stem cells in two portions or in two different locations. This will ensure the safety of the samples and give peace of mind to parents about natural calamities. Some banks may not store the stem cells in 2 separate units as each portion needs to be tested for viability, potency and quantity of stem cells before preservation. There is no record stating that US FDA or India DCGI does not permit dual storage so check if the bank offers dual storage facility.

In India, LifeCell is the only bank that offers two-site storage for stem cells in Chennai and Manesar, Gurgaon.

6. Transplant information

A reputed bank must be able to provide expert information about stem cell therapies. Usually AABB accredited banks have technical experts to answer all stem cell related queries to the parents. They should also have a good number of sample retrievals for transplants. Check if the bank could provide the above information to you before signing up for their service.

Umbilical cord stem cell banking is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and your baby's stem cells deserves the best cord blood bank in the country. See if the stem cell bank satisfies all the above factors before enrolling for their service.