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Step by step about collection of umbilical cord blood


Umbilical cord blood can be collected after the baby’s birth from the arteries or the vein of the umbilical cord – after cutting the umbilical cord, but before expulsion of the placenta. If an insufficient quantity of blood is obtained from the blood vessels of the umbilical cord, there is another possibility, namely to collect blood directly from the placenta, after its expulsion.


Umbilical cord blood can be collected by the obstetrician or the midwife assisting the birth. The harvesting kit contains all necessary instruments.


As all activities involving umbilical cord blood, harvesting shall be done with the greatest possible care and under sterile circumstances – using a sterile harvesting kit, wearing sterile gloves and mask. This is possible both in the case of vaginal birth and of Caesarean section, as far as the collecting does not affect the process of childbirth. Inasmuch as no complications arise during childbirth, the drawing of umbilical cord blood can be carried out in roughly 5 minutes.

How much?

As much as possible! It would be ideal, if the collection bag containing anticoagulant would be filled with umbilical cord blood, since the number of stem cells is directly proportional with the amount of collected blood. However, the amount of umbilical cord blood that can be drawn depends on several factors: the number of weeks of pregnancy, the dimensions of the placenta and placental maturity, the manner of how childbirth unfolded etc. Thus, practically, the problem may be that the amount of blood that has been collected is too small. According to international requirements, it is not recommended to store amounts of blood mixed with anticoagulant smaller than 50 ml, because in the case of smaller samples the number of stem cells is too low. Nevertheless, as our practical experience shows, even in the case of samples of 40 to 50 ml it is worth waiting for the results of processing. Afterwards, parents should base their decision of asking for the storage of the sample not on the volume of the latter, but on the data showing the number of stem cells.

Storage and transportation

During transportation to the laboratory, umbilical cord blood should be kept on a temperature between 4 to 30 oC and protected from extreme temperature variations. The harvesting kit comprises the freezing bags needed for this purpose. These bags are equipped with a special data recording unit for temperature measurement, which allows the retrospective tracing of the conditions in which the sample has been transported and stored. The sample should be transported to the laboratory withing 36 hours after delivery.

We attach special importance to processing umbilical cord blood sent to the laboratory within 36 hours from harvesting.