Canada’s national cord blood program is managed by Canadian Blood Services, which says the main purpose of the program is to help Canadians who never registered with a family cord blood banking facility. The national program is less than a year old, but operators are optimistic that the program will help patients battling blood cancers find alternative sources of therapy.
As the national program expands, it will become very beneficial for patients like Mai Duong. The 34 year old Duong lives near Montreal, and launched an online cord blood awareness campaign last month in the hopes of finding a viable donor.
Duong has a Vietnamese background, an ethnicity that is vastly underrepresented in cord blood registries around the world. Minority patients that require cord blood stem cell transplants often struggle to find suitable donors. The Canadian national cord blood program encourages families with heritages in Asia or Africa to donate their baby’s cord blood to help others in need.
Duong first underwent chemotherapy for her leukaemia in 2013, which successfully sent the condition into remission. But earlier this year, a follow up blood test confirmed that the leukaemia had returned, and the search for a viable cord blood donor was underway.
Canada’s cord blood program is still in its infant stages, meaning there were few options for Duong within the country. The Toronto Star reported that Duong’s doctors decided to search in cord blood registries around the world.
After doctors announced they found a successful match, Duong expressed relief with her followers on social media. She was readmitted into a Montreal hospital to prepare for a new round of chemo before the cord blood stem cell transplant, which is expected to occur before the end of the year.