Matching a stem cell donor to a recipient is a challenging process. Only 25 per cent of patients are lucky enough to find a match within their own family. The other 75 per cent must look outside of their family for an unrelated donor (some who is not a biological relative).
It is easier to match patients that need a stem cell transplant with stem cells sourced from cord blood than from other sources (bone marrow or periphery blood) because an exact match is not needed. Cord blood stem cell transplants have a lower chance of rejection or infection than other sources of stem cells.
At any given time, about 1000 Canadian patients need an unrelated stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, about half of those patients don’t find a matching donor. And often, these amazing cord blood stem cells are discarded as medical waste.