On March 14, 2011, the provincial and territorial health ministries announced the creation of Canada’s first national and publicly funded umbilical cord blood bank. This is expected to be a huge benefit to Canadians. The only province that has its own blood banking system to date is Quebec.

Did You Know?
In the 1970s scientists discovered that the umbilical cord contains blood-forming stem cells similar to those found in the bone marrow and could be used for bone marrow transplants.

Nowadays, Canadian parents have the option of storing their baby’s umbilical cord blood at a private cord blood bank, for a fairly steep fee. However, most cord blood is discarded. The banking process has proven beneficial for families with a history of blood-related diseases.

Umbilical cord blood is typically collected immediately following delivery of babies by experienced obstetricians or nurses. It is then transported to cord blood banks for further processing; stem cells are isolated and stored at liquid nitrogen temperature until needed. When properly stored, stem cells can last up to a decade and can be used for transplantation procedures in patients that require them.

Currently, blood in Canada is managed by Canadian Blood Services, a non-profit organization. The same organization also operates OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, a program that matches up patients in need of bone marrow transplants with national and international volunteer donors.

Did You Know?
Development of the national bank will begin in 2013—the government will contribute approximately $36 million for the project and an additional $12 million will come from public fundraising.

The national cord blood bank will make cord blood units accessible to all Canadians by storing an ample supply of high quality umbilical cord stem cells. There are currently more than 800 Canadians living with life-threatening diseases (such as leukemia and aplitic anemia) who could potentially benefit from bone marrow and stem cell transplants.

Learn more!

Cord blood banking

Canadian Blood Services

CBC: National Cord Bank to get $48 Million

Learn more about Stem Cells on our Stem Cells Theme Page!

Article first published June 29, 2011

Janice Song

My name is Kate Williams.  I'm currently working on my PhD in the Neuroscience program at McMaster University.  My research involves identifying and understanding how specific plasticity mechanisms in our brain change with normal, healthy aging.

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