Canadians Urged to Make a Life-saving Investment in Stem Cells

November 15th is National Philanthropy Day

NOVEMBER 15, 2014 (CANADA) – To mark National Philanthropy Day on November 15th, Canadian Blood Services is inviting people to make a financial contribution to the For All Canadians campaign.

This national, three-year, $12.5 million fundraising campaign will help Canadian Blood Services transform stem cell transplantation in Canada by building a national public cord blood bank that will help give patients access to a greater number of life-saving stem cells.

Marshall Eliuk, an entrepreneur in the Peace River area of Alberta, was diagnosed in 2000 with aplastic anemia. He received blood and blood products and beat the disease that almost took his life.

Eliuk decided to help others who haven’t found their stem cell match by making a $1.5 million donation to the For All Canadians campaign, the largest gift Canadian Blood Services has ever received from an individual donor. 

Umbilical cord blood is a rich source of stem cells but in most cases in Canada, it is discarded as medical waste. A national public cord blood bank will give expectant mothers the opportunity to voluntarily donate their baby’s cord blood to be banked publically. Cord blood stem cells will create more transplant opportunities for patients waiting for a stem cell match. 

“Thanks to generous Canadians, to date, we’ve raised $9.8 million in charitable donations toward our goal of $12.5 million to establish this country’s national public cord blood bank,” says Margaret Miedema, director of fundraising with Canadian Blood Services.

“Fundraising is a critical part of building the bank. We need just under $3 million to build the resource that will be available to all Canadians. You can be a part of this important health care initiative by making an online donation at or by texting DONATE to 20222.” 

In March 2011, provincial and territorial ministries of health (except Quebec) announced a combined investment of $48 million, including $12.5 million in fundraising from Canadian Blood Services, to build a national public cord blood bank reflective of the unique needs and diversity of Canadian patients.

Quick Facts

  • The demand for life-saving stem cell transplants has tripled over the past five years and continues to grow at a staggering rate.  
  • Stem cells are immature cells that can turn into any of the cells present in the bloodstream. They’re currently used for treating more than 80 blood-related diseases and disorders. 
  • At any given time there are almost 1,000 Canadian patients looking for an unrelated stem cell match to survive.
  • Approximately 75 per cent of patients rely on the generosity of an unrelated volunteer stem cell donor to save their life.
  • Canada’s unique diversity presents a challenge in our ability to find stem cell matches for patients from our ethnically diverse communities, since a patient’s best match is often someone of similar ancestry.
  • Cord blood stem cells have unique abilities that make them easier to use for transplantation; even when a match between donor and patient is not perfect.

Canada’s national public cord blood bank will consist of two stem cell manufacturing facilities in Ottawa and Edmonton, with collection hospitals in Ottawa, Brampton, Edmonton and Vancouver.