“Knowing you might be able to save someone else’s life is just incredible,” says Jessica Thomas, two-time donor to Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank.
Umbilical cord blood is rich in stem cells, which can be used to treat more than 80 diseases and disorders. Patients in need of a stem cell transplant are much more likely to find a match among people who share the same ancestral background. That’s why building diversity in Canadian Blood Services Stem Cell Registry and the national public cord blood bank is important.
The need for diversity hits especially close to home for Jessica, whose children are of mixed background — Caucasian and Afro-Caribbean. That’s because patients of mixed ancestry often struggle to find a stem cell match.
“If one of my kids ever needed a match, they might not find a donor, so I wanted to help change the status quo,” says Jessica.
Jessica is also a blood donor, stem cell registrant, financial supporter and philanthropic ambassador for Canadian Blood Services. In 2011, the Campaign for All Canadians raised more than $12.5 million from financial donors across the country to establish a national public cord blood bank.
“I am just one of the many people doing what they can to help save a life. I encourage everybody I know to participate,” says Jessica.