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Bloggery » March 6th, 2014

Stem cell Preservation in India

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, unveiling the stem cell company Lifecell and stem cell preservation advertisements having a tag of INR 19999 had made many think that stem cell preservation had finally become affordable for the middle income group. But the truth is different from the ad.

Also, there are about 5-6 companies (LifeCell, Reliance Relicord, Cryo Stemcell, Cryobanks, Stemcyte to name a few) in the market vying for this small market segment. The information available online are not to the point and are a source of confusion for many. The amount of blood collected will have an influence on the amount of cells. However, when you go to use the cells, the cells have to have been extracted from the plasma and red blood cells. The processing method of the cells determine how many cells are available for use, as different methods will produce different results.

As for accessing cells, there are two types of transplant autologous(requiring one’s own cells) and allogeneic (using someone else’s cells). If you need the cells for an autologous transplant, you cannot go to a donor bank for a sample. The treatments with the highest likelihood of use currently all require autologous transplants.

NHS, UK does it by default in the west. Hoever, it is different – they store the cells in a public bank from where anyone else can take the cells as well and your child can take someone else’s cells and chances are high they will be used before “expiry” i.e the 26 years promised. In all cases the facility is provided free, the user of the cells (not the donor) has to pay at the time of use. This is not the advertised case in India.

There are two kinds of techniques used for storage: Plasma Depletion and Plasma + Red Cell Depletion. Plasma Depletion only removes the Plasma. Red Cells must also be removed before transplantation. Hence, red cell depletion process has a better recovery of stem cells and provide better samples. If you only remove the plasma prior to storage, you may have more stem cells being stored at the time of storage. However, when you release the cells for transplant, you have two issues. RBC’s have a tendency to rupture during cryogenic storage. You therefore have to wash samples of the RBC’s prior to transplant. With a higher volume of RBC’s in samples that are only plasma depleted, you will lose more stem cells during the washing process. When you are trying to find the highest possible yield, you want to look at RBC depleted samples.

When a bank states that they will find other sources, the question to ask is does finding a sample include the cost of the sample. Most donor samples are not free to retrieve and have very high cost involved. One more thing to note is if they are searching only their own database or they search a public database too.

Most cord cell storage banks test for viability before storing and will not charge if they are not able to store a viable sample. If the sample is not viable on release, then the bank should take on some liability in regards the sample they stored. This should be included as a part of the agreement and you have to read the agreement prior to joining and clarify all questions you might have. Some companies provide unto 6 lakhs in case of a future transplant and 10 lakhs if they cannot provide you back with a viable sample. Some companies like Stemcyte India have plans to cover siblings and parents as well. Lifecell offers a yearly payment plan with a initial joining fee of INR 19999 where as Stemcyte offers a 21 year plan for INR 75000 and 26 year plan covering siblings and parents for 1.5 lakhs. They provide you a kit which you need to carry at the date of delivery to collect the samples. Sometimes in hospitals like Apollo where Stemcyte India has a tie-up, the doctor doing the delivery will collect it. If the hospital does not have a tie up, Stemcyte India will send a collection nurse to the hospital.

This entry was posted on March 6th, 2014 @ 11:29pm and is filed under Blog, Happenings of the World, Health and Fitness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Responses

  1. Amol Patwardhan says:

    Nice write up Deepak. We are still searching for proper cell bank. All bank working in India advertising with an ambiguity. As you said all the rules are not properly defined to a new comer.
    lets see. Have you preserved cells of your child if any?

  2. hem says:

    Hi Deepak, very good explanation, Can you tell us why you decided not to go., if you dont mind.
    we are thinking to go with stemcyte.

  3. Amol says:

    Thanks for the article. I was planning to store stem cells. Can you please recommend me good stem cell bank in india.

  4. Sumegh says:

    I have been cheated by Stemcyte for storage of the stemcells for my baby. Below is the detailed account of the event as how they happened. I feel I should have gone with Lifecell or Cryoviva. If I had gone with them, at least i would not be in this situations.

    We were expecting twins. During our research, we had contacted all the blood banks in India and after careful consideration, at least we thought we were careful, we paid initial deposit to Stemcyte. On one of the routine visit to the doctor, she said that for twins, it is highly probable that you may get volume only for 1 of the baby and not the other one. When we discussed this with Stemcyte executive, they said post collection of the sample, lab will process only after your confirmation if the volume is less than 40ml. We were again relaxed. But little did we know that it was short lived.

    On the day of the delivery, i was asked to sign a document where the executive said that if I do not sign, the blood collected would not be processed. That had a clause which said “I allow Stemcyte to Process blood even if it less than 40 ml”. Now I was in a fix. reluctantly I had to sign.

    When i discussed with sales executive, they said that I will be given a Call if sales volume is less than 40 ml and i should not worry. The call never came and I was handed a certificate which said the collected volume was 32 ml. This volume is of no use as it cannot be used for treatment.

    I will never forgive Stemcyte for cheating with me and my family. Irrespective of the financial loss, as long as I am alive, I will never stop educating people about bad practices of Stemcyte, where they cheat people.

    I understand that given India’s legal system and deep pocket of Stemcyte, legal is not an option I can take.

    If there is one advise I can offer to anyone reading this, don’t save your baby’s cells with Stemcyte.


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