The Canadian Blood Services completed its goal of opening Canada’s national donor cord blood banking program earlier this year. The program first launched at a hospital in Ottawa, with commitments to expand to three other cities across the country by mid-2014.
CBS has confirmed that one of those locations will be in Edmonton at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women. The Lois Hole Hospital, which is part of the Royal Alexandra Hospital campus, is one of four sites that will actively collect samples of cord blood from families beginning early next year.
Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services, says cord blood stem cells are rapidly becoming the preferred alternative to bone marrow stem cells.
“They can grow up to be red blood cells or platelets or white blood cells. They’re the ideal cells to replace damaged cells in diseases like leukaemia.”
According to CBS, as many as 1,000 Canadians wait for a viable stem cell transplant derived from umbilical cord blood or bone marrow every year. However, up to 50 percent of patients in wait are unable to find a viable genetic match.
Until the launch of the national cord blood bank, families reliant on donated cord blood relied on international donor banks to find suitable matches. Families who are expecting to give birth can also rely on family cord blood banking programs, which make the banked cord blood stem cells available for medical therapy if ever the need should arise.