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Health Canada finds Edmonton cord blood bank ‘unsanitary’; ‘may pose serious health risks’

Health Canada has issued a public advisory about cord blood stored at Canadian Cord Blood bioRepository (CCBR) in Edmonton after an inspection revealed, “significant issues that may pose serious health risks.”

The federal health regulator said it informed CCBR that it is now, “prohibited by law to collect, process, test, or store cord blood under unsanitary conditions.”

The clinic is led by Dr. John Akabutu, who declined to comment in an email sent to HeartlandNews.

“I am unable to speak with the media on the advice of my legal counsel,” he said.

The CCBR website claims that Akabutu is “one of Alberta’s top 100 physicians of the century.”

The company describes itself as at the forefront of “the paradigm shift to personalized medicine that is revolutionizing the way human diseases are treated,” and features the slogan, “the future is in your hands.”

A banner at the top of the CCBR website currently reads, “Please note that the CCBR will not be accepting new registrations between September 1st, 2023 and November 30th, 2023,” though, it is unclear whether this is related to Health Canada’s site visit and the subsequent advisory released November 1.

That advisory applies to all blood currently banked at CCBR that was “collected, processed, tested and/or stored anytime between March 1, 2014, and present.”

The advisory states that all cord blood stored at this facility should be “tested by a qualified third party before use.

“If you have cord blood stored at CCBR, contact them directly to understand your options.”

Health Canada said that its site visit revealed:

  • processing, testing, and storing cord blood in an environment that was unclean or cleaned with expired disinfectants
  • having inadequate measures in place to monitor temperature, humidity, and contamination in areas where cord blood is processed, tested, and stored
  • a lack of qualified personnel
  • the use of uncalibrated equipment
  • not following established processes
  • a lack of proper record-keeping

Health Canada also advises they found “online advertising suggesting that cord blood can be used by people other than the person the blood came from,” while CCBR is only permitted to store cord blood for the personal use of the donor. 

Health Canada has requested CCBR do the following:

  • notify customers storing cord blood at CCBR of Health Canada’s safety concerns
  • stop collecting, processing, testing, and storing new cord blood under unsanitary conditions
  • implement a plan to correct the faults Health Canada highlighted in its review

Health Canada said that clients of the CCBR should make sure they have stored blood tested by a “qualified third party according to accredited standards outlined by the Canadian Standards Association for blood cells used in transplantation,” including, “at a minimum,” for infectious disease and cell viability.

Clients of CCBR should contact the company directly to “understand your options,” the advisory said.

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