Expectant mothers who birth at BC Women’s Hospital can now donate to a national cord blood bank.

Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank has been officially launched. Expectant mothers who give birth at participating hospitals can now help build an ethnically diverse stem cell bank in Canada by donating their baby’s cord blood.

Five hospital sites in four cities have partnered with Canadian Blood Services to build this program. “This is a significant achievement for the Canadian health-care system,” said Dr. Graham Sher, Canadian Blood Services chief executive officer. “Through our hospital partners, we are able to provide expectant mothers the opportunity to donate to a national public cord blood bank; increasing the chances for patients who need a stem cell transplant to find a match.”

Cord blood is a rich source of blood forming stem cells that can be used in the treatment of over 80 diseases and disorders. With the number of Canadian patients waiting to receive a stem cell transplant tripling over the last five years, demand for stem cells has been growing at a steady rate.

On any given day, nearly 1,000 Canadians are in need of a stem cell donor and many of these patients are from ethnically diverse backgrounds. With Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank we are increasing the opportunities for these patients to find a stem cell match, as well as contributing to the international database for patients around the world.

Even with access to over 635,000 publicly - banked cord blood units and over 25.5 million adult donors, unfortunately, half of the patients in Canada requiring a stem cell donor are without a match.

Quick Facts

Partnering hospitals are:

  • BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre
     
  • The Ottawa Hospital General Campus and Civic Campus
     
  • William Osler Health System’s Brampton Civic Hospital
     
  • Alberta Health Services’ Lois Hole Hospital for Women in Edmonton
     
  • The above hospitals are now collecting cord blood donations to be banked publically from expectant mothers who deliver in these locations.
     
  • Cord blood stem cells are less mature than adult stem cells from bone marrow or peripheral blood which means that cord blood stem cells do not necessarily require the donor and patient to be a perfect match.
     
  • Approximately 75 per cent of patients rely on the generosity of an unrelated stem cell donor to save their life.
     
  • 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.

Find out more about becoming a cord blood donor.