Jan 2014
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Save cord blood, save lives

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In September, when the first public umbilical cord blood bank opened in Ottawa, Canada joined — albeit last — the rest of the G8 countries to have a national collection program.

Things have been rolling along since then.

On Friday, the BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre in Vancouver was named the fourth collection site across the country, with Brampton and Edmonton designated in October and November respectively. “We are honoured to have BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre as one of our collection hospitals,” Dr. Graham Sher, Chief Executive Officer at Canadian Blood Services, which manages the public bank, said in a media release. CBS expects to collect about 18,000 cord blood units over the next six years.

Healthy women 18 years older who are delivering at the Vancouver hospital can soon voluntarily donate their baby’s cord blood during a testing period that will last until mid-year. The collection site officially launches later this year.

The donated cord blood will be available to patients unable to find donors among their families or donor lists. Cord blood cells are a rich source of stem cells, which can be transplanted to treat diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma.

With Vancouver being such an ethnically diverse city, the newly created collection facility will increase the possibility of patients from different ethnical backgrounds — including Asians, Aboriginal People and multi-ethnic people — finding a match.

“Finding a bone marrow match was more of a problem for me because I’m black” Hector Walker, who received his bone marrow transplant from cord blood cells in 2010, told the Vancouver Sun. “Even my brother wasn’t a match.

“Life is so unpredictable. People should understand they can save someone’s life by doing this,” he said.

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