Commercially available cartilage grafts have only been on the market for the last nine or 10 years. Thanks to the research that goes on at places like the Institute for Cartilage Repair in New York, we have a much better idea how to treat these injuries.
Even at a minimum, it takes at least 14 days to process tissue after harvest. The allograft is tested right away for bacterial contamination. It is also tested for hepatitis and HIV. It will be tested again for bacterial content just before transplantation into a live patient.
A recent study from the Institute compared the results of fresh allografts to frozen grafts. The fresh tissue was implanted within 30 days of harvest. The stored tissue was 30 days old or older.
The older graft tissue actually had better results. The graft maintained its thickness while filling in the open defect very nicely. Most of the patients had a smooth intersection between the graft and native host (the patient's own) cartilage.
For now it looks like the standard length of storage time (several weeks) can extend up to and beyond 30 days. Most research is needed in this area to determine the optimal time for harvest and implantation.