It’s a match! An update from Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank

In 2011, Canadian Blood Services launched the Campaign For All Canadians – a fundraising effort to help build a national public cord blood bank for the hundreds of Canadian patients in need of stem cell transplants each year. After successfully reaching the goal of $12.5 million in financial donations, Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank is fully operational, with five collection hospitals across Canada, and holds some of the world’s highest quality, ethnically diverse cord blood units.

The road to build Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank has been marked with many celebratory milestones, perhaps the most important of which occurred in the summer of 2016. In June 2016, we celebrated the first match and shipment of a cord blood unit to an international patient. As part of the global registry, units from our cord blood bank are available to patients all over the world who need a lifesaving match. Likewise, we have access to an extensive international registry of cord blood units from other banks around the world.


Two hands holding a test tube filled with cord blood

Before the cord blood bank was built, Canadians relied almost entirely on cord blood stem cells units accessed through international registries – in fact, over 80 percent of Canadian patients currently receive stem cells from donors abroad. Last September however, yet another incredible milestone marked the beginnings of an integral shift: the first Canadian patient received a stem cell transplant using a cord blood unit from our bank.

“The cord blood bank is especially important for Canadian patients because of our country’s ethnically diverse population,” said Dr. Heidi Elmoazzen, Director of Canadian Blood Services Cord Blood Bank and Stem Cell Manufacturing. Patients needing a stem cell transplant are much more likely to find a match from someone within their own ethnic group. By building a bank reflective of the unique ethnic diversity we see here in Canada, Canadian patients have more opportunities to find a stem cell match.

Image of a lab technician cupping an empty unit in between their hands

To date, over 15,000 units of cord blood have been collected from mothers, and more than 2,000 high quality, ethnically diverse samples have been banked for searching and matching. Since the events of June and September 2016, three more units have been shipped for transplant - given the relatively small size of the cord blood bank, this is a significant achievement.


Image of a Canadian Blood Services Employee packing up a box for OneMatch

Thanks in part to support from financial donors, Canada is now home to one of the most state-of-the-art cord blood banks in the world. The generosity of our financial donors will play a vital role as we continue building a high quality and ethnically diverse bank through the education and recruitment of new moms and the latest innovations in cord blood banking.

Help us continue to build a high quality, ethnically diverse cord blood bank.