Canadian expertise – Héma-Québec’s Public Cord Blood Bank achieves world-class status

Montréal, December 21, 2015 – Héma-Québec’s Public Cord Blood Bank crossed an important threshold today, by making the 10,000th unit of cord blood available for transplant.

“Considering the size of its population and the number of units in the bank, Québec is positioned among the principal global stakeholders. As a result, Héma-Québec has helped rank Canada 11th in the world and its distribution activities are continuing to develop at a sustained pace, both nationally and internationally. This achievement can be attributed to the generosity of donor mothers, the mobilization of the teams at the partner hospitals and the expertise developed in biological products of human origin within our organization,” said Serge Maltais, President and CEO of Héma-Québec.

Héma-Québec’s Public Cord Blood Bank, which has been in operation since 2004, collects, processes, analyzes and stores umbilical cord blood. This blood is an excellent source of stem cells. These cells are very useful for treating serious diseases, such as leukemia. At present, more than 1,000 Canadians need a stem cell transplant, including close to 100 patients in Québec.

Many people have benefited from such transplants and can now make the most of life. This is the case of Charles Domingue who received a stem cell transplant from umbilical cord blood at the age of 12, in 2009, in order to fight acute myeloid leukemia. Now 18 years old, this young man from Québec City is studying at the Cégep de Limoilou and intends to complete university training in electrical engineering.  

Other cases have attracted media attention and served to make more people aware of stem cell donations. In May 2014, Mai Duong, of Montréal, learned that she needed a stem cell transplant, to fight acute myeloid leukemia as well. Since Mai is of Vietnamese descent, she had to find a donor from the same background. In fall 2014, a compatible cord blood was found and she received her transplant. “Somewhere in the world, a mother gave birth and gave a second breath of life to another mother,” she stated.

Valérye Dubois, a mother who donated the cord blood of her three children, rejoices in these accomplishments. “It’s marvellous to think that it is possible to save a life by giving life,” she said.

Cord blood units used throughout the world

More than 100 units from the Héma-Québec Public Cord Blood Bank have in fact been used for transplants. Cord blood units from the bank have been used to transplant patients in Canada (51), the United States (24), the Netherlands (8), England (6), France (6), Australia (2), Italy (2), Turkey (2) and Argentina (1).

The interest of international transplant centres continues to grow at a sustained 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 Marie-Claire Chevrier, Director of the Stem Cell Donor Registry.

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 75 stem cell donor registries and 53 cord blood banks throughout the world. The BMDW indexes 26 million donors and 682,000 units of cord blood.

About Héma-Québec

Héma-Québec’s mission is to efficiently meet the needs of Québec population for safe, optimal-quality blood and blood products, human tissues, cord blood, mother’s milk and cellular products; to develop and provide expertise and specialized, innovative services in the field of human biological products. 

Give blood. Give life.

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