OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network

In October, Canadian Blood Services reached a huge milestone in the development of the national public cord blood bank when it uploaded the first 50 cord blood units to Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW). This international registry hosts Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Bone Marrow registry and 73 other stem cell donor registries from 53 countries.

It also hosts 47 cord blood banks from 32 countries. “It takes BMDW about five days to process our upload. Once uploaded, our units can be searched nationally and internationally,” says Dr. Heidi Elmoazzen, director of the national public cord blood bank. “All of our hard work to get the bank up and running is starting to come to fruition. Our contributions are now searchable and we’re joining the ranks of other nations to help patients who need a stem cell transplant.”

Stem cell transplants are a standard therapy in the treatment of more than 80 blood diseases such as leukemia, anemia, lymphoma and many other lifethreatening disorders.

“With cord blood cells, you can get away with less strict HLA [human leukocyte antigen] matching, so they are especially useful in cases of hard to match patients,” says Dr. Elmoazzen. “Umbilical cord blood is a rich source of valuable stem cells and yet, in most cases, it is discarded as medical waste.”

These stem cells will be representative of the unique DNA of Canada’s ethnically diverse population.

Now that the national public cord blood bank is searchable, Canadian patients have a higher chance of finding a stem cell match. It’s also significantly cheaper than sourcing through the international registry where each procured cord blood unit costs the health-care system approximately $42,000.

In September 2013, we opened the first collection site in Ottawa and in July 2014, we began collecting cords in Brampton. We look forward to our final two collection hospitals in Edmonton and Vancouver beginning to collect for transplant in the coming months.

Our next major milestone will be when banked cord blood units are selected through the registry.

To date, Canadian Blood Services has secured over $11.5 million in charitable donations to the Campaign For All Canadians, which is helping build the national public cord blood bank. You can be part of this important health initiative by making a financial donation today.