Frequently Asked Questionsclick on a question for more information.
Canadian Blood Services National Public Cord Blood Bank is part of the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, which is a national program that:
Many Canadian patients have unique stem cell matching needs reflecting Canada’s extensive diversity. Stem cell donors from all ethnic backgrounds are needed.
At any given time, the OneMatch Network is searching on behalf of almost one thousand Canadian patients in need of an unrelated blood stem cell donor. Approximately 50 per cent of patients who need an unrelated blood stem cell transplant are unable to find a suitable match. A national public cord blood bank that is dedicated to the unique needs of Canadian patients will provide additional opportunities for finding a match and help save more lives.
Blood stem cells are immature cells that give rise to the cells found in the bloodstream: red blood cells for oxygen transportation, platelets for blood clotting and white blood cells for fighting infections. There are three sources of blood stem cells for stem cell transplant:
Cord blood stem cells have some unique advantages over bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells:
Cord blood stem cells are used for stem cell transplantation. Cord blood stem cell transplants are used for treating over 50 diseases and disorders, for example, leukemia, lymphoma, aplastic anemia, inherited immune system and metabolic disorders, as well as sickle cell.
In addition, stem cell research is a growing area which has the potential to change the treatment of many diseases. Promising results from a wide variety of research projects show the potential for turning this research into safe and effective medical therapies in the future.
Canadian Blood Services National Public Cord Blood Bank will benefit Canadian patients and the country’s health care system by providing those in need of stem cells with increased opportunity for transplant and reducing Canada’s current 100 per cent reliance on internationally sourced cord blood stem cell donations.
Additionally, a national public cord blood bank is especially important for Canadian patients because of our country’s ethnically diverse population. Approximately 70 per cent of Canadian patients requiring a stem cell transplant must look outside of their immediate families for a match. Canada’s ethnic population is under-represented on the national OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. There is a pressing need for these patients to have better access to stem cell treatments.
The National public cord blood bank will be collecting donated cord blood donations from volunteering mothers across Canada at designated collection hospitals. As part of Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, the data from all banked cord blood donations will be listed within the network and available to all Canadians patients currently searching for an unrelated stem cell match. This same data will then be uploaded into an international database of over 560,000 cord blood donations from 46 cord blood banks worldwide for all patients in need of an unrelated donor.
Canadian Blood Services National Public Cord Blood Bank will consist of five (5) collection hospitals in four (4) cities: Ottawa, Brampton (Greater Toronto Area - GTA), Edmonton and Vancouver. In Ottawa, you can donate at The Ottawa Hospital General campus or The Ottawa Hospital Civic campus starting on September 30, 2013.
In mid-2014, collections will begin in Brampton (GTA), at the William Osler Health System, Brampton Civic Hospital, in Edmonton at the Alberta Health Services’ Lois Hole Hospital for Women and in Vancouver at the BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre – giving even more Canadians the opportunity to donate cord blood stem cells.
For more information about the collection hospitals, please visit Where to Donate.
Canadian Blood Service National Public Cord Blood Bank will make cord blood units available for transplant to any Canadian patient in Canada, as well as patients in need around the world. In terms of collecting cord blood from anywhere in Canada outside of Ottawa, Brampton (GTA), Edmonton and Vancouver, the goal is to build a national, public cord blood bank that is reflective of Canada’s ethnic diversity. Once the initial National Public Cord Blood Bank is operational, we will examine how best to expand collections to further this goal.
Please be assured that the National Public Cord Blood Bank will make cord blood donations available for transplant to any Canadian patient in Canada, as well as patients in need around the world.
Healthy pregnant women -18 years of age or older - can donate cord blood with their signed consent. Additionally, a mother qualifies to donate her baby’s cord blood if neither she nor her infant has any diseases or medical conditions that could be passed on to a patient who receives a cord blood stem cell transplant.
Canadian Blood Services is required to test the mother’s blood for diseases such as: human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the virus which causes AIDS), hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV and HCV), human T-lymphotropic virus (HTVL), syphilis, and West Nile Virus (WNV).
Mothers reaching 34 weeks or later in their pregnancy and are not having a multiple pregnancy, may consider donating their baby’s cord blood. At the time of delivery your physician or midwife will determine if the cord blood collection may proceed.
If you are delivering at one of the designated collection hospitals, please talk with your health care provider, doctor, or midwife during your prenatal visits about your interest in donating your baby’s cord blood. They will provide you with information about the National Public Cord Blood Bank.
On the day of delivery, simply arrive with your signed “Permission to Collect” form and let your nurse know of your intent to donate your baby’s cord blood. All required forms will be available at www.blood.ca/cordblood. Canadian Blood Services will endeavour to provide translation in languages other than English and French for cord blood mothers donating their baby’s cord blood. A minimum of 2 months’ notice prior to due date may be required.
Simply arrive with your signed ‘Permission to Collect’ Form and let your nurse know of your intent to donate your baby’s cord blood.
Next, the cord blood will be collected in one of two ways. First, by in-utero collection, in which a hospital physician or licensed midwife collects the cord blood after the baby is delivered, but before the placenta is delivered.
The second way is through ex-utero collection where designated Canadian Blood Services personnel collect the cord blood after the baby and placenta are delivered.
Following the collection, the cord blood unit will be sent to one of our manufacturing facilities in either Ottawa or Edmonton. Once at the manufacturing facility, the donations will be processed, tested and cryopreserved (stored) in a special freezer. These stem cells can be kept for long periods of time and will be available for use by Canadian and international patients in need of a stem cell match.
Canadian Blood Services National Public Cord Blood Bank does not interfere with the natural process of the delivery of your baby. The risks to your health and your baby’s health are very low, as blood stem cells are collected from the umbilical cord/placenta after delivery of your baby.
There is no cost to donors to donate cord blood. All cord blood donations to the National Public Cord Blood Bank are made through the generosity of each individual donor.
Canadian Blood Services National Public Cord Blood Bank is required to test the baby's cord blood for certain tests such as: markers that will match the cord blood to the patient, blood type, Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and for hemoglobin abnormalities such as sickle cell disease.
OneMatch will also test the baby's cord blood for Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and for hemoglobin abnormalities such as sickle cell disease.
Cord blood stem cell donations are stored in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196 degrees Celsius (-320.8 degrees Fahrenheit) and can be stored for a very long time before being used. As for cell longevity, it is still unknown how long cord blood can be stored, but there are examples of cord blood stem cells being transplanted after 13 years without any detected deterioration in quality. With this knowledge, and staying directly involved with the medical community, Canadian Blood Services’ national public cord blood bank is confident in providing the highest quality cord blood stem cells for many years.
Donor and patient identities are not shared.
Cord blood that is not donated to the OneMatch Public Cord Blood Bank is normally discarded, unless other personal arrangements have been made.
To reserve donated cord blood for family use is the practice of private cord blood banking and Canadian Blood Services does not offer this service. The National Public Cord Blood Bank is for any patient in Canada or world-wide in need of an unrelated stem cell transplant.
Canadian Blood Services National Public Cord Blood Bank will operate strictly as a public cord blood bank, but remains open to collaboration where possible with Canada’s private cord blood banks. Both education and best practices may be areas that support such collaboration.
Part of our education and consent process is making parents aware of their choices of either:
As part of Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, we will use the successful experience gained from recruitment activities to ensure we have representation from all of Canada’s ethnically diverse communities.
Canadian Blood Services National Public Cord Blood Bank will be focusing on ethnically diverse donors, such as Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, Métis, Black and mixed-race mothers. This is exceedingly important as these communities are under-represented on the OneMatch Stem Cell Network.
Canadian Blood Services National Public Cord Blood Bank will use existing partnerships with community leaders within ethnically diverse communities to ensure we increasingly meet the needs of patients. For example, we have a partnership with the Aboriginal Nurses Association, as well as a continued partnership between OneMatch and the sickle cell community in Canada. Both of these partnerships will assist the cord blood bank on strategies to obtain volunteer cord blood donations for both Black and Aboriginal patients.
Canadian Blood Services National Public Cord Blood Bank will be conducting its very important validation phase at the William Osler Health System, Brampton Civic Hospital, Alberta Health Services’ Lois Hole Hospital for Women and BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre, estimated to begin in February/March 2014.
The validation phase is to ensure that the National Public Cord Blood Bank runs at the highest quality when it launches. During the validation phase, we must demonstrate that all equipment used for processing, freezing and testing, as well as the many processes needed to run the National Public Cord Blood Bank are functioning properly. This validation phase will ensure the safety of all donors and patients.
Please note for Ottawa: As of September 30, 2013, the National Public Cord Blood Bank completed the validation phase in Ottawa and became fully operational, collecting cord blood for transplant purposes.
Once the validation process has been completed, all validation cord blood donations will be discarded as medical waste through proper disposal practices.
Regrettably, there will be instances where, due to certain mitigating factors such as volume, some cord blood donations may not be used for validation.
Please know that Canadian Blood Services is grateful to mothers for being part of this important and required phase for establishing Canada’s national public cord blood bank.
There are many ways you and your family and friends can help:
In partnership with The Ottawa Hospital, Canadian Blood Services has developed the Cord Blood for Research Program to provide approved researchers with access to cord blood. Through this program, cord blood collected at The Ottawa Hospital (Civic Campus and General Campus), which does not meet the criteria for storage in the National Public Cord Blood Bank, will be distributed to biomedical research with consent from the mother. For information about the Cord Blood for Research Program, please read the “Information for Cord Blood donation for Biomedical Research” pamphlet provided in the information kit.
Researchers in need of cord blood for research will submit an application to the Cord Blood for Research program to have their research projects approved to receive cord blood products for use in biomedical research. The donated cord blood will be distributed to researchers for use in biomedical research only if:
Cord blood may be found unsuitable for banking if the amount of blood collected is too small or it does not meet the specific requirements of the national public cord blood bank.