We’ve collected tips and information on shipping valves based on our experience both shipping tissue valves and receiving them for the lab. Here are some that may be useful to readers:
- Valve container choice is important – Ideally something sturdy that will not leak or break. These containers can be further sealed and protected with bubble wrap, tape, foam, plastic baggies, etc. Any sort of extra cushioning and sealing is great. At this point, the wrapped and sealed containers can be packed in a box, with more foam to prevent jostling. Indicate which is the right way up on the box.
- If valve container labels are not waterproof, they can be sealed over with clear packing tape. We have received shipments where the containers had leaked and paper labels were faded, damaged, and even falling off – Identifying the valves after that is very tricky!
- Some valves come packed with shipping temperature indicators, if the samples are particularly temperature sensitive. They can also be packed in Styrofoam thermos’ with cold packs. That may be worth looking into for longer, over-seas shipments.
- Generally, samples are express-shipped. We try to plan for shipments to go out on a Monday or Tuesday, to avoid having the package sitting around in a warehouse over a weekend.
- Filling out the shipping forms, it is best to give as much contact information as possible (landline telephone number, cellular phone number, email, etc.). This way, if there is an issue with the shipment, the shipping company can make contact easily.
- Also on the forms, you will need to include how many items/valves you are sending and the unit price for each. This is for tax and duty purposes. We use the same value given when valves were shipped to us. Different manufacturers use different unit value.
- A “Description of Goods” is also required on the shipping forms. It is important to indicate that the items are not for sale (if that is the case). So something like the following would suffice: “Medical device: fixed porcine heart valves for testing and return. NOT FOR SALE.”
- There should also be a “Special Handling Instructions” section – this is where any notes about chemicals contained, fragility, temperature sensitivity, etc. would go.
- If there are any questions regarding the shipping process specifically, the shipping company should have some good information as well.
Choose an appropriate storage fluid for shipping (typically dilute glutaraldehyde or 0.9% saline solution). Most shipping companies like an attached MSDS for any chemicals in a package and the shipping form description should identify such chemicals. It is also good practice to put an extra MSDS just inside the shipping box, so it’s the first thing people see when receiving the package. Make sure to put in enough fluid to fully cover the valves and then some – we have received samples that leaked and were no longer covered by fluid when they arrived.