Hope for patients waiting for a transplant

25 million stem cell donors now registered internationally

Montréal, March 25, 2015 – Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW), an organization linking stem cell donor registries in different countries, and the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA) report having reached 25 million registered donors. A partner of BMDW since 2013, Héma-Québec is proud to have contributed to this milestone that provides hope for health professionals and patients everywhere waiting for a transplant.

Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with a serious disease such as leukemia, another form of cancer or a hereditary condition. For some of these patients, a lack of treatment options means that their only hope for survival is a stem cell transplant from a healthy donor.

An international effort

Launched in 1989 by eight participating countries, BMDW now enjoys the support of 53 nations working together in sharing a list of potential stem cell donors around the world. This means that when a compatible donor cannot be found locally for a patient requiring a stem cell transplant, the Héma-Québec registry can access other international donor registries. In return, we help other countries to find compatible donors in Québec for their patients. This centralized registry enables health professionals everywhere to find a compatible donor or unit of cord blood rapidly and effectively. To date, more than 250,000 patients have received a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor. Given that the chances of finding an unrelated compatible donor depend on the patient’s genetic profile and that nearly 50% of transplants are performed between donors and recipients in different countries, the international registry in which Héma-Québec participates is an invaluable resource.  

Québec’s contribution

In addition to its Stem Cell Donor Registry, Héma-Québec established the first Public Cord Blood Bank in Canada in 2004. By building partnerships with hospitals serving mothers from various cultural communities, Héma-Québec has been able to diversify the nearly 9,500 units in the Bank to ensure that it better reflects the composition of the Québec population.

By joining the Stem Cell Donor Registry, giving to the Public Cord Blood Bank and making these causes known to others, people in Québec have contributed to saving hundreds of lives right here at home and around the world. Still, 25 million registered donors represents only 1% of the world’s adult population, and so Héma-Québec is continuing efforts to raise awareness and recruit new donors.

About BMDW

To find the best matched donor for a patient, the first step is to look into BMDW, the global database, where all potential donors and cord blood units are listed. The database is available for physicians who can quickly look and determine within a few minutes if there is chance for a match for their patients.

BMDW is operated by Europdonor Foundation, a Dutch nonprofit organization. For more information, visit: www.bmdw.org.

About WMDA

Worldwide, over 50,000 patients per year are looking for a matched donor outside their family. Nearly 50% of the patients that find a donor find his or her perfectly matched donor in another country. WMDA works towards a global standardization by establishing an accreditation programme for registries. The accreditation programme ensures that organisations protect the welfare of the donors and high-quality stem cells for patients worldwide.

WMDA is an international association. To learn more, visit: www.wmda.info.  

About Héma-Québec

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

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