Brent is young, male and concerned
for others in his First Nations community –
all traits of an optimal stem cell donor.
The bigger picture:
We’re responding to the rapidly rising
demand for stem cells with a national donor
registry and now have approval
to build Canada’s first national public
cord blood bank.
In 2011/2012, Canadian physicians performed 432 unrelated stem cell transplants, a 35.4% increase over the previous year. The OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, operated by Canadian Blood Services, played a key role in matching recipients with unrelated donors – across Canada and among 19 million potential donors in registries worldwide. Still, by year-end nearly 1,000 patients were awaiting transplants, and that gap is growing quickly as practitioners identify new stem cell applications and extend treatment options to an older demographic.
About 70 percent of Canadian patients who require stem cell transplants to treat leukemia, aplastic anemia and other illnesses must look beyond family connections for a match. Their chances would be significantly enhanced if Canada, like all other G8 countries, had a program for collecting and banking umbilical cord blood stem cells. Therefore, in March 2011, provincial and territorial health ministries committed to invest $48 million in a national solution. To help meet that total cost, Canadian Blood Services will spearhead a $12.5 million community fundraising effort. In fiscal 2011/2012, we laid the foundations for a three-year capital campaign, establishing a governance structure and financial targets.
The new, national public cord blood bank will be developed and operated by Canadian Blood Services to provide a critical health-care resource for our diverse national population, including Canadians of uniquely mixed ethnicity. The new bank, which will also facilitate stem cell research in this country, is expected to begin accepting donations at The Ottawa Hospital in April 2013. The current plan calls for additional collection centres to be opened in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver by the fall of 2014.
Two other developments from 2011/2012 are noteworthy. In the past, physicians narrowing down potential donors in the OneMatch registry had to submit a request for more detailed human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing to better gauge the chances of success. As of November 2011, higher-resolution HLA data are available on the first query, allowing more proactive, patient-centred decisions when time is of the essence.
Also in November, we renewed our accreditation for another five years with the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA), which sets standards for 76 registries around the globe. In its meticulous review of the OneMatch registry, the WMDA cited some of our processes and policies as being worthy of note.