Kilimanjaro Climbers Hope to ‘Move Mountains’ for Stem Cell Patients

Blood system CEO leads 24 climbers to raise funds for Canada’s first national public cord blood bank

August 1, 2013 (OTTAWA) – On August 6, Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services will be part of a team of 25 devoted climbers sharing one single vision—to help fund Canada’s first national public cord blood bank. Umbilical cords are a rich source of stem cells and in Canada they are largely discarded after child birth. By collecting and storing umbilical cord blood in an accredited national public bank, the lives of more Canadian patients can be saved and the suffering of many families can be reduced.

Canadian Blood Services launched the $12.5 million For All Canadians fundraising campaign to build a national public cord blood bank. Individuals and corporations across Canada are responding to this urgent health care need to meet the increasing demand for stem cells. By offering their financial support, they are helping Canadian Blood Services and governments build the first national public cord blood bank for all Canadians.

For the nearly 1,000 Canadians waiting for a stem cell match, each day is an uphill struggle that takes unrelenting courage and strength to endure. “We may be climbing Africa’s highest peak, but the challenges we’ll encounter are nothing compared to what patients face daily when they are waiting for stem cell transplants to fight life threatening conditions like leukemia or lymphoma,” says Sher. “Our team of climbers understands the courage and strength needed for Kilimanjaro is insignificant compared to what these patients endure every day.”

Japreet is a 10 year old girl who was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lympho Histiocytosis (HLH) in May 2013. She currently needs a stem cell transplant to save her life. “Japreet is a vibrant child who enjoys spending time with her family” says Simran Grewal, Japreet’s cousin. “Now her days are spent in the Hospital for Sick Children waiting and hoping a stem cell match is found.”

A national public cord blood bank is especially important for Canadian patients because of our country’s ethnically diverse population. Canada’s ethnic population is under-represented on Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. There is a pressing need for these patients to have better access to stem cell treatments.

“Canadians can help Japreet and other patients like her by donating generously,” urges Sher. Canadians can follow this important journey at #climb4cord. “Ascending to new heights regarding stem cell banking is why we are here. Providing better chances for all patients such as Japreet, is why we came.”

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Canadian Blood Services hired Tusker Trail, a world class trekking company with 37 years of Kilimanjaro experience, to lead this two-week climb up Africa’s highest mountain. For more information visit