Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hope in a Dewar

This weekend, we had an opportunity to visit and tour the CBR facility down in Tucson, Arizona.  We're big advocates for cord blood banking, and banked both Emerson and Zoe's cord blood.  By the time Zoe was born, we also chose to bank cord tissue (rich in the type of stem cells used to regenerate damaged heart tissue in adults suffering a heart attack.)  We asked a few of her treating physicians about banking; all informed us there was no stem cell therapy for HLHS at the time, but "who knows what we'll be able to do 10 years from now."  With that, how could we not bank?  Less than 3 years later, we're already seeing progress with HLHS and stem cell research. 

The girls weren't half as interested in touring the CBR facility as Caleb and I.  They couldn't care less that their stem cells were being stored in "dewars" containing liquid nitrogen, or that the backup generator for the entire facility was ginormous, or that the lab which processes all incoming stem cells was on the second floor, or that the cells inside the dewars have already given hope and life to hundreds of families.  Zoe made her disinterest abundantly clear during the near 45 minute tour. 

Thankfully, before the tour, we were able to get photographs of the girls in front of their "dewars" which stores their cord blood/tissue.

Emmy and Zoe sitting in front of Zoe's cord blood dewar

The girls, doing a bit of filming for CBR

Faux excitement about stem cells

Family photo in front of Zoe's cord tissue dewar

Good luck hug that we'll be able crack open dewar 49 someday

Roaming the halls and checking out the lab

During the tour, I was impressed with the wall of thanks - a wall with thousands of caregiver names, all of whom collected cord blood and/or tissue for banking with CBR.  I had to snap a shot of not just the wall...

But of the physician who collected Zoe's cord blood and tissue, Dr. Victor Zachian at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  I sure hope Dr. Zachian's hard work on May 11, 2010, in pulling the cord blood and collecting a cord tissue sample, pays off down the road.

The area where the dewars are stored is quite impressive.  Each dewar holds over 8,000 samples - that's a whole lotta hope inside one dewar!

At the end of the tour, I caught a glimpse of Zoe staring at the dewars.  I hope she was willing medical advancements at that moment - so we can use her stem cells to someday strengthen that half a heart and keep it beating strong inside her tiny chest.

A glimpse - on the brink of stem cell therapy


  1. Stacey, this is just so awesome. What a great opportunity for you guys!!!

  2. That is so cool to see! My son's cord blood is also banked there but I had no idea what the facility looked like. Thanks for sharing!


  3. It is very important that the liquid nitrogen dewar’s inner vessel is completely cleaned with water and all cleaner remains are removed. Spraying the solution into the inner vessel is the best but agitation of the solution inside the inner is also tolerable.

    thanks a lot for sharing