Because Canada’s population is ethnically diverse, finding stem cell matches has been like looking for a very small needle in a very large haystack.

As a charitable organization, Canadian Blood Services receives financial donations that have helped build the blood system in Canada. Our first fundraising campaign, For All Canadians, is currently raising $12.5 million to help build a national public cord blood bank. At the time of publication, organizations and individuals have contributed more than $8.84 million toward our goal.

As we close in on this goal, we are inviting all Canadians to become a part of health-care history by giving a financial donation to help build the national public cord blood bank.

Canada is the last G7 country to build a national public cord blood bank. That’s despite the fact that demand for stem cells in Canada is growing at a staggering rate. Each day, nearly 1,000 people are waiting for a life-saving stem cell transplant, a number that’s tripled over the past five years.

Because stem cells from cord blood can be more easily matched, it is often the answer for Canadian patients. Right now, we rely solely on internationally sourced stem cells from cord blood, each of which costs an average of $42,000 to import.

While building our own bank will reduce the costs to taxpayers, more importantly it will improve the chances of finding matches for Canadian patients. Because Canada’s population is ethnically diverse, finding stem cell matches has been like looking for a very small needle in a very large haystack. Having a bank of stem cells that reflects our ethnic diversity will give these patients a better chance to find a match.

With the financial support we’ve received so far, we’ve implemented the first phase of the cord blood bank by opening the manufacturing and storage facility in Ottawa. Our first collection site has also opened at the Ottawa Hospital, where mothers can volunteer to donate their baby’s cord blood to the bank.

With $3.7 million left to raise for the campaign, we are counting on Canadians to help us reach our goal by year’s end. With your support, we will be able to move to phase two and open collection sites in Brampton, Edmonton and Vancouver, as well a manufacturing and storage facility in Edmonton.

“With the community phase of the campaign, the excitement is building and we’re inviting all Canadians to support this vital health-care resource,” says Margaret Miedema, director of fundraising. “Anyone could need a stem cell transplant — your neighbour, a loved one, a colleague. One day it could be you. Supporting this campaign is truly a chance to help save lives.”

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