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Building New Hope for Patients

Canadian Blood Services’ and The Ottawa Hospital celebrate first step towards building Canada’s first national public cord blood bank

September 30, 2013 – Starting today, mothers delivering at The Ottawa Hospital’s General and Civic Campuses, will have an opportunity to donate their babies’ umbilical cord blood as part of Canadian Blood Services’ initial step in building Canada’s first national public cord blood bank.

With $6.3M in charitable donations so far, once completed, the National Public Cord Blood Bank, together with the help of Canadians through Canadian Blood Services’ $12.5M fundraising campaign “For All Canadians”, is positioned to reach an approximate target of 18,000 donated cord blood units over six years. Ottawa represents the first of four collection cities and one of two Canadian Blood Services manufacturing and storage facilities contained within the original east-to-west funding agreement with provincial and territorial ministers of health. On March 14, 2011, provincial and territorial ministries of health (except Québec) announced a combined investment of $48 million, including $12.5 million in fundraising, to create a national public umbilical cord blood bank.

At any given time there are almost 1,000 Canadian patients looking for an unrelated stem cell match to survive. This is exceedingly difficult for many ‘hard-to-match’ patients when their best chance at finding a compatible donor may lie within umbilical cord blood stem cells. 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. This is compounded by patients of diverse heritage where their only hope for a match may come from umbilical cord blood, and not from an adult stem cell donor. Ethically-diverse donors continue to be largely underrepresented on the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. By building a national public cord blood bank dedicated to the unique needs of Canadians, patients will have an additional opportunity for finding their match and thereby surviving their illnesses and cancers.

“We are elated to be launching this first phase of the National Public Cord Blood Bank with The Ottawa Hospital” says Dr. Heidi Elmoazzen, Director of the National Public Cord Blood Bank. “A lot of hard work has been put into Ottawa and we are very excited to be able to continue building Canada’s first national public cord blood bank in Brampton (GTA), Edmonton and Vancouver by mid-2014.”

If it were not for a stem cell transplant; Nate Lupton would not be alive today.  Nate was born on April 7, 2010 and diagnosed with Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome, a rare immune deficiency that affects one in 250,000 live male births. The disease impacts the body’s ability to produce platelets and fight infection. For many of these patients, the only cure lies within a stem cell transplant. At 8 months old, Nate received his cord blood stem cells from an international donor and was transplant at Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital

“Cord blood has given my son a chance at a normal life and to experience all things great in life” says Amy Lupton, Nate’s mother. “But this cord came from outside Canada and we were lucky. Canadians now have the chance to change this. Starting with The Ottawa Hospital and moving across Canada, moms can help more Canadian stem cell patients like my son, find their match by voluntarily donating their baby’s cord blood.

Healthy pregnant women, 18 years of age or older, 34 weeks or later in their pregnancy and not having a multiple pregnancy can donate their baby’s cord blood with their signed consent. For more information on the National Public Cord Blood Bank, please visit www.blood.ca/cordblood.

About Canadian Blood Services OneMatch Stem Cell & Marrow
Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network is a program dedicated to recruiting healthy, committed volunteer donors for patients in need of blood (hematopoietic) stem cells. OneMatch also conducts searches for matched, unrelated donors for patients; ensures donors are healthy and able to donate; and, coordinates the collection and delivery of stem cells in Canada and around the world.  As an accredited member of the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA), OneMatch represents an important part of an international group of 71 registries and 48 cord blood banks that transmit their donor HLA typing results to Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW). As a result, when searching on behalf of Canadian patients, OneMatch has access to more than 22 million volunteer donors in 51 countries and more than 585,000 cord blood units from 48 cord banks in 32 countries. As part of Canadian Blood Services, the provincial and territorial Ministries of Health provide operational funding to OneMatch. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.onematch.ca.

About ‘Campaign For All Canadians
Canadian Blood Services’ national fundraising campaign, ‘Campaign For All Canadians’ has been initiated to help build Canada’s first national public cord blood bank. Through its 3-year campaign, the ‘Campaign For All Canadians’ will help raise funds to assist Canadian Blood Services transform stem cell donation in Canada by creating the National Public Cord Blood Bank. The National Public Cord Blood Bank is managed by Canadian Blood Services, on behalf of the provinces and territories except Québec, which runs its own cord blood banking program through Héma-Québec.

For more information contact:

Annie Barrette
Communications Specialist
Canadian Blood Services
T: 705.688.7341
C: 705.665.6514