If you are considering banking your baby’s umbilical cord blood, you may have questioned how long cord blood can be cryogenically stored. In this blog post we answer that frequently asked question.
In 1988, Matt Farrow was just 5 years old and suffering from Fanconi Anaemia. Fanconi anaemia is a complex, genetic medical condition that can affect many body parts and lead to bone marrow failure. He was seriously ill, but when his parents discovered they were expecting a baby who was not only free from the genetic condition but was a perfect match for her brother, the course of medical history was changed.
Dr. Hal Broxmeyer pioneered the cryogenic storage of cord blood, allowing baby Alison’s cord blood to be preserved and sent to her brother, Matt, for the world’s first cord blood transplant. Since then, Broxmeyer’s lab has continued to prove the longevity of correctly stored cord blood. Two years after his death, in 2021, his lab continued his work and proved the viability of a cord blood sample after 27 years in frozen storage.
Cord blood samples, which have been stored for years, have also been used successfully in medicine. A 20-year-old donor cord blood sample had been successfully transplanted to treat a leukaemia patient in Australia in 2018. Then, in 2023, a young Chinese man was successfully treated for Aplastic Anaemia using his own cord blood sample, which had been stored 19 years previously .
Cryopreservation of other tissues has been around for decades, with the semen of high-value studs being stored in animal husbandry. The Sydney Institute of Agriculture announced that record-breaking 50-year-old cryopreserved sperm had resulted in the live births of sheep . For humans, the equivalent record is sperm that had been cryopreserved for 40 years, resulting in the live birth of twins conceived through IVF. Human embryos frozen 30 years ago were successfully carried to term, resulting in twins Lydia and Timothy Ridgeway through embryo adoption .
With researchers agreeing that correctly stored tissue samples are effectively immortal, the answer to this question could realistically be “forever”.