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A different kind of bank

A different kind of bank

Posted on: December 05, 2013
Author: Jennifer Kohle

ATB invests in Canada's first National Public Umbilical Cord Blood Bank for better and faster treatment of common blood diseases.


At any given time, close to 1000 Canadians are in need of a blood stem cell donation. In many cases, it is their best and last hope for treatment of leukemias, lymphomas, anemias and over 50 other common blood diseases.

About 70 per cent of patients who need a stem cell transplant must look outside their family for a match. Matching for stem cells is based on the DNA of the patient and the donor. Currently, Canada's registry is very small and does not reflect the ethnic diversity of our population. Most patients in need of a donor are forced to seek one from international sources. This is especially challenging for ethnic populations native only to Canada, particularly those of aboriginal decent.

On July 12, 2012 the first umbilical cord blood unit was collected and validated in Ottawa as part of the National Public Cord Blood Bank. With the funding agreement of the provincial and territorial ministers of health, Canadian Blood Services will operate a national, public cord blood bank with the goal of banking 18,000 cord blood units over the next six years.

Video: Amy and Nate's story
Video: Dr. Donna Johnston

Canada is the only G8 nation currently without a public umbilical cord blood bank. Cord blood contains immature adult stem cells, which are able to generate blood cells, connective tissue cells, and structure cells (like blood vessels). These youngest and most adaptable forms of stem cells are more readily accepted by the body and significantly reduce the likelihood of rejection while treating a variety of life-threatening blood diseases.

ATB is proud to invest in projects that help Albertans live long and healthy lives. To learn more about the progress of this campaign, or to donate, please visit Canadian Blood Services