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Shipping blood samples to Vitamin Diagnostics - any advice?

Discussion in 'Diagnostic Guidelines and Laboratory Testing' started by Searching, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. Searching

    Searching

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    Canada
    Hi,

    I'm wondering if anyone can share advice or information that would help ensure my methylation panel test kit makes it to Vitamin Diagnostics on time and in good condition.

    I've been calling the usual shipping companies (UPS, FedEx, etc.) and am met with confusion and a lot of time listening to their 'on hold' music as I am transferred from one customer service agent to another. I've gone to the UPS store in person and they asked me to call the 1-800 number, so I'm back where I started.

    My main concerns are:

    1) Did you add any packaging to your test kit? (Styrofoam surrounding the vials, and a thin cardboard box.)

    2) Did you fill out any paperwork or did you just stick your shipping label on the box and mail it?

    I'm shipping from Canada to USA and the FedEx website is having me fill out the following:
    -Commercial Invoice
    -Pro Forma Invoice
    -Air Waybill
    -Application for Permit to Import or Transport Etiological Agents, Hosts, or Vectors of Human Disease
    -CPSC Certificate of Conformity Instructions
    -Declaration of Biological Shipments
    -NAFTA Statement ( US Importation)

    Many of these seem unnecessary, and I'm not sure they all apply to my situation. I just don't want my test kit to be held at the border. By the way, they also suggested I include a form that has to do with importing biological matters from endangered species, so I'm guessing I got put into a general "biological matter" category. Either that or they consider me as special. :p I'll take it as a compliment?

    I'll add that since I'm shipping from Canada, I didn't get a free shipping label included with my kit. I've been quoted between $75 and $155 for overnight shipping. Add on the blood draw and lab fees, and this test is starting to get pretty expensive. I'd hate for the parcel to get delayed or returned and have to do it all again.

    I'd appreciate any advice you can share with me. Thanks in advance.
  2. Patrick*

    Patrick* Formerly PWCalvin

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    California
    Searching,

    I finally got around to shipping my blood to them a couple weeks ago. Beforehand, I had similar questions, and some of them were answered in this thread. Re the packaging question, the short answer is "no." You just put the cardboard box with the Styrofoam inside the mailing bag they sent with the kit. No other packaging necessary.

    I'm don't know about what other documents to fill out when shipping across international borders, but don't forget to fill out and include the lab order, with your doctor's signature. That must be included with the shipment. And the lab order must have the ICD code filled out -- there's a space for it near the the top right of the form, underneath the spaces for your doctor's name and address. For ME/CFS, the code is 780.71.

    I hope that helps. Good luck!
    Searching likes this.
  3. Patrick*

    Patrick* Formerly PWCalvin

    Messages:
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    California
    You can also email the lab at lab@vitdiag.com. I've emailed them in the past and they were fairly good about getting back to me.
  4. Searching

    Searching

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    Canada

    Thanks SO much for your reply. Your advice about the mailing bag was perfect, it saved me from needing a larger box.

    Also, I didn't have an ICD code written on my requisition form, so I used the one you provided, which was exactly what I would have needed (ME/CFS).

    I just sent it in, I'm thrilled to finally have gotten the ball rolling on this. I really, really appreciate your help.

    Thanks again.
  5. Searching

    Searching

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    Canada
    Thought I'd post some advice for others who need to ship from Canada.

    This info is current as of August 2012.

    The only lab I could find in Ontario that would accept to draw blood into the kit's vials is LifeLabs. The total fee was $20, they didn't charge me tax.

    I tried various shipping outlets, including Canada Post. I ended up using FedEx.
    I liked FedEx because (in my experience) the customer service agents new what they were talking about when it came to shipping blood. Also, I chatted online with them on their website when I had a question. They had people working at the facility who knew exactly what I needed (in terms of paperwork), and double-checked everything for me. UPS store was clueless, I called three different ones, none of them were willing to talk to me about it. They kept referring me to their 800 number, where I reached more clueless people, unfortunately. FedEx also had the Biological Matter bags ready to use when I got there, and their website had all the paperwork I needed available to fill out ahead of time.

    Here's what I used in terms of paperwork:
    -Commercial invoice (I know it's not a 'sale' and you're not a 'company'.)
    -FedEx Air Waybill (This is the standard form for mailing anything.) I got mine in person at the FedEx outlet.
    -Declaration of Biological Shipments form.

    You do not need to ship it on ice.

    Vitamin Diagnostics writes on their instructions that if it will take longer than 24 hours for the blood sample to reach them, that you should call for further instructions. I called and was told there was nothing else to do, and that it was okay even if it took two or three days to get there, when it comes to the Methylation Panel. So send it as an overnight shipment anyway, but don't worry too much if it gets held for a day or so at the border.

    You have to pack it in a certain way:
    When you get your sample back from the lab, put tape (clear scotch tape) around the top of each vial to seal it.
    Wrap the vials in absorbent material (Suggested material is cotton balls or paper towels) in case of spills.
    Put the vials back into the styrofoam holder they came in, in the test kit. Tape up the sides of the styrofoam.
    Wrap the styrofoam in a zip-top plastic bag, I taped this closed too, just to be safe.
    Put the whole thing back into the little red and white test kit box.
    You can include your requisition form (doctor's order/signature/patient info) in the box or just add it to the clear bag that you will be given by FedEx.

    You must label your parcel "Exempt Human Specimen", and certify that it is non-hazardous, and non-infectious. (If it is. If you're sending blood that carries any type of human disease, you've got to send it differently, under a different code.)

    The H.S. code I used was 3002.90 for Whole human blood.
    The Harmonized Tariff Number for my shipment was 3002.90.51.10
    Again, make sure these numbers apply to what you're shipping, I'm just telling you what applied to me.

    Under special instructions, it's a good idea to write "Fragile, contains glass", "Please Rush", "Do not heat", etc.

    Your parecel has to have a surface area of at least 100mm by 100mm (10cm x 10cm), your red and white test kit box is bigger than this, so it's fine to ship.

    Also remember to include a thorough description under "Description of Goods", including the amount of blood sent. (In my case, it was three 7ml vials) Don't forget to explain why it's being sent and what it will be used for.

    I was told to send in my paperwork in triplicate, so print out three copies, or use a photocopier if you're filling it out by hand.

    It ended up costing me about $70 Canadian to mail.

    Remember to leave a phone number with FedEx. They told me they would call if my parcel was delayed at the border by customs.

    Good luck, hope this helps.
    PWCalvin likes this.
  6. cturcot

    cturcot

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    Canada
    Searching,

    Thanks for all the detailed info on this. I have been thinking of getting the Vitamin Diagnostics methylation panel for a few months now but getting it done from Canada seemed complicated and overwhelming. Your step by step explanation helps us to get down to the logistics. Hope your shipment arrived safely and you received your results!
  7. Searching

    Searching

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    Canada
    Hi cturcot,

    My shipment made it to the lab in less than 24 hours! I was very pleased, there were no extra fees/border charges for either the lab or myself.

    It took five and a half weeks to get the results, I was initially quoted three to four weeks. They were faxed to my doctor.

    I also ordered the supplements from Holistic Health (Yasko). They arrived in Canada exactly a week from the date I placed my order, and I used the cheapest shipping method offered (around $10 or $11 to ship nine bottles of supplements).

    So we Canadians can absolutely do this. I was worried too, but it is possible!

    Good luck!

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