MONTREAL, Aug. 26, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The only public cord blood bank in Canada, operated by Héma-Québec since 2004, has increased its activities at a sustained pace since last year and is producing interesting results, both nationally and internationally.
This is partially a result of the fact that Héma-Québec has been offering its cord blood units to the international community since September 2012 through Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW), a group of 71 stem cell donor registries and 49 cord blood banks throughout the world. BMDW indexes more than 21 million donors and 575,000 units of cord blood.
During the first seven months of the year, Héma-Québec has already more than quadrupled its shipments of cord blood compared to last year, delivering units for 17 patients waiting for stem cell transplants, including four in Canada and 13 abroad. Two other cords intended for the United States have been reserved for August.
From January to July 2013, cords from its bank have been used for transplants in patients in the United States (6), Turkey (1), England (1), France (2), the Netherlands (1), Argentina (1) and Italy (1). Finally, four cords were delivered in Canada, namely three in Québec and one in Ontario.
To date, the public cord blood bank has received more than 100 requests for compatible units from abroad. The interest of international transplant centres continues to grow at an encouraging pace. "Héma-Québec has adopted qualification criteria among the strictest in the world by requiring a higher cell concentration per each bag of cord blood. The higher the cell concentration is, the better the chances are for a successful transplant," explained Diane Roy, manager of the Stem Cell Donor Registry. According to Ms. Roy, this superior standard, which has been in effect since the spring, is not unrelated to the growing popularity experienced by the cord blood bank.
Hôpital Sainte-Justine has used 12 cord blood units from Héma-Québec, with excellent transplant results in all cases. "The time it takes the bank to react to our requests has become very short, identical to the best in the world. Héma-Québec's cord blood bank is our first choice when we start looking for transplants. When two transplants are similar, we always give precedence to Héma-Québec's," stated Dr. Michel Duval, head of the Hematology/Oncology department at the CHU Sainte-Justine.
Héma-Québec manages the only public cord blood bank1 in Canada and has qualified close to 8000 cord blood donations since 2004. Héma-Québec collects, processes, analyzes and stores the umbilical cord blood. This blood is an excellent source of stem cells. These cells are very useful for treating serious diseases, such as leukaemia. At present, more than 1,000 Canadians need a stem cell transplant, including close to 90 Quebecers.
Héma-Québec's mission is to efficiently provide adequate quantities of safe, optimal blood components, substitutes, human tissues and cord blood to meet the needs of all Quebecers; to provide and develop expertise along with specialized and innovative services and products in the fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.
Héma-Québec encompasses 1,300 employees, over 300,000 donor visits to blood drives per year, 16,000 volunteers and more than 500,000 blood products delivered annually to Québec hospitals to meet the needs of patients.
Give blood. Give life.
1 The Héma-Québec cord blood bank is the first Canadian public bank to obtain NetCord-FACT accreditation. In cell therapy, NetCord-FACT accreditation is an essential qualification.
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