Patients Waiting for Stem Cell Match Counting on Canadians

Giving Tuesday to highlight umbilical cord blood bank

OTTAWA /CNW/ – On “Giving Tuesday,” Dec. 2, Canadian Blood Services is encouraging Canadians to help build a national public cord blood bank by making a financial donation to the $12.5 million For All Canadians fundraising campaign.

The organization is also inviting people to take and upload a selfie explaining why they support Canadian Blood Services with the hashtag #UNselfie (an unselfish “selfie”).

“Just as Black Friday and Cyber Monday kick off the holiday shopping season, Giving Tuesday is dedicated to philanthropy and marks the opening day of giving season,” says Margaret Miedema, director of fundraising with Canadian Blood Services.

“Giving Tuesday is an excellent opportunity for the community phase of our For All Canadians campaign. Building a national public cord blood bank will transform stem cell transplantation in Canada and help give patients access to a greater number of life-saving stem cells.”

Umbilical cord blood is a rich source of stem cells but in most cases in Canada, it is discarded as medical waste. A national public cord blood bank will create more transplant opportunities for patients waiting for a stem cell match and offer new hope of survival.

Canadian Blood Services is one of more than 2,500 charities, businesses and communities across the country taking part this year in Giving Tuesday.

“As we saw in October during our official appeal for donors, the need for blood is constant. There’s also an ongoing need for people aged 17-35 to register as potential stem cell donors on our OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network,” says Miedema.

“Now, Canadian Blood Services is building this country’s national public cord blood bank, with the help of generous Canadians. We need just under $2 million in donations to our campaign, to build this resource that will make more stem cells accessible to all Canadians. The exciting part is that throughout the day on Giving Tuesday, TeraMach Technologies Inc. (Ottawa) will be matching donations to our campaign, up to $20,000. You can be a part of this important health care initiative with an online donation:”

In March 2011, provincial and territorial ministries of health (except Quebec) announced a combined investment of $48 million, including $12.5 million in fundraising from Canadian Blood Services, to build a national public cord blood bank reflective of the unique needs and diversity of Canadian patients.

Quick Facts

  • The demand for life-saving stem cell transplants has tripled over the past five years and continues to grow at a staggering rate.
  • Stem cells are immature cells that can turn into any of the cells present in the bloodstream. They’re currently used for treating more than 80 life-threatening blood-related diseases and disorders.
  • At any given time there are almost 1,000 Canadian patients looking for an unrelated stem cell match to survive.
  • Approximately 75 per cent of patients rely on the generosity of an unrelated volunteer stem cell donor to save their life.
  • Canada’s unique diversity presents a challenge in our ability to find stem cell matches for patients from our ethnically diverse communities, since a patient’s best match is often someone of similar ancestry.
  • 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.
  • Canada’s national public cord blood bank will consist of two stem cell manufacturing facilities in Ottawa and Edmonton, with collection hospitals in Ottawa, Brampton, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Canada Blood Services gt-logoAbout Canadian Blood Services

Canadian Blood Services is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization that manages the supply of blood and blood products in all provinces and territories outside of Quebec. Canadian Blood Services also oversees the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, is establishing Canada’s (excluding Quebec) national public cord blood bank and supports leading practices development, professional education and public awareness for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. In addition, Canadian Blood Services purchases manufactured plasma protein products, contributes to transfusion medicine research and provides diagnostic services in some provinces. It operates 41 permanent collection sites and more than 21,000 donor clinics annually. The provincial and territorial Ministries of Health provide operational funding to Canadian Blood Services. The federal government, through Health Canada, is responsible for regulating the blood system.

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SOURCE Canadian Blood Services