Mar 31 2012

Why is a Medical Courier Needed When Transporting Cord Blood and Cord Tissue?

Posted by Martin Smithmyer

According to best practices, it is best to have the cord blood and cord tissue back to the laboratory and processed within 48 hours of birth, and generally, the sooner the better. The idea behind paying the extra money for an express medical courier, such as NGL (Network Global Logistics/FedEx SameDay), AirNet (now known as Midnight Express) or Quick, is so that you have the best chance of getting the cord blood and tissue back to the lab in the time frame allowed. So, why is it that so many other cord blood companies don’t have the price of the medical courier built into the fee as we do? We really don’t know (aside from the $400-$500 it saves the company), but it certainly isn’t a good idea to send the cord blood and tissue absent a medical courier.

How do cord blood banks ship the collection kits to their labs?

A lot of companies send cord blood and or cord tissue back to the laboratory via ordinary shipping services, and we have gone on the record on multiple occasions to say that this is not a good idea. Traditional shippers save up to $400 or so off of shipping costs, but frankly it is not reliable enough at night and on weekends or holidays to get the cord blood and tissue there in time. For example, if your baby is born at 7:00pm on Friday (in fact, regular FedEx service does not guarantee any particular pickup cutoff time for pickups on Fridays – if you are in a rural area, the last pickup could be 1:00pm), it is too late for FedEx to schedule a pickup for delivery on Saturday. The only FedEx service reliable enough to handle cord blood is FedEx SameDay, which is actually a partnership with NGL (one of the couriers mentioned earlier). Since ordinary FedEx does not deliver on Sunday at all (or Holidays either), the cord blood and tissue would not even be picked up until Saturday or possibly even Monday (depending on FedEx’s schedule for Saturday). That means your stem cells will not get back to the lab until Monday or Tuesday – that is 3 or 4 days. At that point, your cord blood and cord tissue are cooked and you just wasted all that money.

Why Use FedEx?

So, FedEx is bad and shouldn’t be used for cord blood or cord tissue transport, right? Actually, that is not the entire story. It may surprise you to hear this but sometimes the medical courier may utilize FedEx. But you just said… I know. Regarding the use of FedEx, it may surprise you but this is the standard way that medical couriers operate when transporting cord blood, since it is faster and more efficient at times to use a commercial or third party courier. FedEx should not be used without the medical courier triaging the shipments, since FedEx on its own will not get the delivery there consistently (as cited above). The medical courier’s role then is to use whatever means necessary to get it there within the permitted time frame. So, at times, they will use their own planes, or commercial planes, or other times a driver, and at times FedEx. ViaCord and CBR and most other cord blood banks use the same model for transport as described here. As support for this, here is a cord blood case study regarding ViaCord or Cord Blood Registry that was published regarding this.

Bottom line – watch out for companies saying that the courier fees are included. You need to confirm that it is a medical courier, such as one of the ones mentioned above. Usually, there is an extra fee if you request this. We include this fee along with our cord blood and cord tissue pricing.

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