Cord blood donation

Blood from the umbilical cord can be collected after your baby's birth and donated to the Héma-Québec Public Cord Blood Bank to help someone with a life-threatening disease. Héma-Québec manages the only public cord blood bank in Québec. Introduced in 2004, it is Canada's first and only public umbilical cord blood bank in operation. There are approximately 40 public cord blood banks worldwide.

This Blood Bank aims to make stem cells from umbilical cord blood a public resource and provide an optimal-quality supply that meets the needs of patients waiting for a stem cell transplant. The Public Cord Blood Bank provides access to a complementary source of stem cells, other than those available in bone marrow and peripheral blood, and it is an integral part of the Stem Cell Donor Registry.

Umbilical cord blood is collected at Héma-Québec’s partner hospitals* with the consent of the mothers who have registered with the Bank. The cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord once it has been cut, after the birth of the child. Therefore, no blood is taken directly from the baby. This type of collection, which is less invasive than bone marrow collection, poses no danger to either the mother or child. If this cord blood is not collected, it is discarded as biomedical waste, as is the placenta.

The cord blood collected is treated and tested in the laboratories where its safety and quality is verified. If the cord blood sample meets all of the standards, it will be frozen until it is needed by a stem cell transplant candidate. Cord blood has a lifespan of at least 10 years when frozen.

The umbilical cord blood donations that do not qualify for the Bank will be stored at the CHU mère-enfant Sainte-Justine, at the Royal Victoria Hospital Clinical Research Cord Blood Bank and at the CHUQ mère-enfant Research Centre for research purposes if the mothers involved give their consent.

Eligibility criteria for umbilical cord blood donation

  • Future mothers must be:
    • In good health
    • Aged over 18
    • Pregnant with a single baby (not twins)
    • Registered prior to the 36th week of pregnancy
    • Aware of all their parent’s medical and genetic history, as well as those of the father of the baby
  • Note that only patients giving birth in Hema-Québec’s partner hospitals* can subscribe:
    • St. Mary’s Hospital Centre
    • CHU mère-enfant Sainte-Justine
    • Royal Victoria Hospital
    • CHUQ mère-enfant Centre
    • Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital
    • LaSalle Hospital Centre
    • Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal
    • Lakeshore General Hospital

A 3 step procedure:

The registration forms must be completed and returned before the 36th week in the pre-paid envelope.
Pregnant women eligible to register must enroll themselves by calling 1 800 565-6635 or 514 832-5000, ext. 5253. They can also send an email to

It aims to ensure your own safety, that of your unborn child and that of the person receiving the transplant. A nurse from Héma-Québec will contact you around the 25th week of pregnancy, in order to complete a qualification questionnaire. The selection process takes about 30 minutes.

The collection of umbilical cord blood requires 3 to 5 minutes and is safe for the child and the mother. The cord blood is collected after the birth of the child, once the umbilical cord is cut, but before placental expulsion. The mother and the child feel no effect.

For any other questions or doubts, we will be pleased to discuss it with you on your next appointment.

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