Banking of cord blood for transplant temporarily suspended


Beginning June 20, 2022, Canadian Blood Services will suspend processing and banking of new cord blood donations for approximately three months.

This difficult decision is the result of a global shortage of cord blood processing kits. This critical product is used to separate and process stem cells in cord blood units before they are stored in our national public cord blood bank.

We had hoped to avoid this situation through our diligent search for alternatives to those kits which are in short supply. However, no viable option is available at this time. Based on the information available to us about the shortage of kits, we expect to be able to resume regular processing and banking by September 2022.

Continuing to serve patients

We know this news may disappoint expectant parents who planned to donate umbilical cord blood to our public bank during this period. We collect donations immediately following birth at four hospitals in Canada. Cord blood stem cells help save lives when they are a match for a patient in need of a transplant.

We also recognize this interruption may worry patients who are currently waiting for a stem cell match. We wish to reassure all Canadians that while we will not add new cord blood units to our bank during this time, we will continue to distribute previously banked cord blood for transplantation. We will also continue to search for stem cell matches for patients. Matches may be found in our own cord blood bank or stem cell registry, or in the many international databases to which we have access.

We also urge individuals between the ages of 17 and 35 to join our stem cell registry online. Like our cord blood bank, prospective donors on the registry give hope to the more than 1,000 Canadians actively seeking a stem cell donor match.

Cord blood collections will continue to support research and quality assurance

It is important to note that donated cord blood is valuable for purposes beyond banking for transplant. We will continue to collect cord blood during this temporary period for quality assurance activities such as training, validation and product/process improvement, and for our Cord Blood for Research Program. This program provides cord blood units for biomedical research, which may help advance stem cell therapies and transplantation practices. It is currently supporting several studies, such as research that could help fight blood cancers.

It is possible that some cord blood units may not be usable for research or quality assurance activities. In those cases, the cord blood unit will be discarded, or returned to the hospital to be managed in accordance with their policies.

Important information for donors

We have updated our e-registration portal for pregnant people who choose to donate their babies’ cord blood while collection for transplantation is temporarily suspended. We will only collect the required information to distribute your donated cord blood for the uses outlined above.

If you are a new registrant or have already registered to donate cord blood, you can expect an email detailing this temporary change with a request to indicate whether you would like to proceed.

We encourage parents-to-be to continue registering to donate their babies’ cord blood if they plan to deliver at any of our four hospital collection sites, regardless of the timing. We will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves. Please check blood.ca for the latest information.

If you have any questions about this temporary period or cord blood donation in general, contact us at cordblood@blood.ca or 1-888-2-DONATE.

If you have any questions about how Canadian Blood Services collects, uses, discloses, and retains your personal information, please visit the Privacy/Legal section on blood.ca or contact us at privacy@blood.ca.

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