11-year old frozen cord blood unit – the story of saving a life

When we are talking about cord blood banking, we also want to find out  about real cases of patients who were treated by cord blood transplantation.

This is one of such real life stories.

In 2015 was published the story of a successful transplantation1 of an 11 years frozen cord blood unit to a 37 years old patient, known by the pseudonym Chen Lin. She was diagnosed with myeloproliferative disorder. This disease cause one or more types of blood cells (platelets, white blood cells and red blood cells) to grow abnormally in the bone marrow. Some patients diagnosed with myeloproliferative disorder have risk of developing secondary acute leukemia from this underlying disorder, as well as from their treatment.

For Chen, the condition worsened due to a serious lung infection. In this situation stem cells transplantation has to be performed in order to save her life. Despite of searching, a matched donor of hematopoietic stem cells wasn’t found. But her bad prognosis had been changed once the matched cord blood unit was identified and the transplantation was performed. After seven weeks of rehabilitation, she is finally healthy.

The unit used for transplantation was donated in May 2004 in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, where it was kept in frozen status at – 196 °C for 11 years. Wang Ruifeng, a researcher from Sichuan said

“As long as umbilical cord blood does not enter a repetitive process of freezing and unfreezing, its shelf life is unlimited. Theoretically, after hundreds of years in storage, it can still be activated and put to use.”

Efficient cell recovery was proven at 5 years, 10 years, 15 years and most recently 23.5 years of cord blood cryopreservation 

Also Dr. Hal E. Broxmeyer, a Distinguished Professor, Mary Margaret Walther Professor Emeritus, and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM), Indianapolis, Indiana and a reference personality in the field of umbilical cord blood banking, said in an article from 2014:

Over the decades since, we have demonstrated efficient cell recovery at 5 years, 10 years, 15 years and most recently 23.5 years after the cells were frozen in cryopreserved form. Coming up in another 2-3 years we will perform a 30 year assessment of our oldest cord blood specimens. Based on the studies in our laboratory, it is likely that cord blood can be stored frozen for decades and still be a potent source of cells for transplantation2.



2. Hal E. Broxmeyer “How Long Can Cord Blood Be Stored?” September 2014

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