For Community Members

Regenerative Medicine:

Regenerative medicine is a branch of medical science that focuses on developing ways to regenerate, repair and regrow damaged cells, tissues and organs. Regenerative medicine strategies aim to restore the normal structure and function of diseased tissues. Some important terminology often used in discussing regenerative is “stem cells,” which are a type of progenitor cells in the body that have the potential to develop into any cell. “Regeneration” means replacing old and damaged cells, tissues and organs in the body with new, fully functional, engineered equivalents. “Clinical trials” is the process of testing developed therapeutics on human subjects. Regenerative medicine has enormous potential and clinical applications. By developing regenerative methods, scientists can treat chronic scars and replace damaged tissues, restore muscle or neural cells and help treat many conditions that lack effective medications.

According to Dr. Tanya Petraszko, a senior medical director for Canadian Blood Services, some barriers to blood donation include “racism and mistrust of the health system, cultural ideas of blood and donation, as well as eligible screen criteria that would deter potential donors.” This is highlighted by the fact that less than 1% of blood donors at Canadian Blood Services identify as African, Caribbean, or Black. Blood disorders like sickle cell disease disproportionately affect people of colour, hence why it is essential to reduce barriers to donation to encourage more individuals from the ACB community to donate. Low levels of donation from individuals of African, Caribbean, and Black backgrounds are present in blood donations, stem cell donations, and bone marrow donations. To add on, ACB community members have the lowest odds, of 29%, of finding a bone marrow transplant due to them having more complex tissue types and also less availability of potential matches in the system.


Ethnocultural, racial inequities in bone marrow, blood and stem cell donations

The discrepancy between Black donors and their total population in Canada could be linked to the Canadian Blood Services’ blood donation ban on individuals if they were born in certain African countries. This ban has been lifted since 2016, but the relationship between individuals of African descent and the Canadian Blood Services has not been repaired. Individuals of African descent do not trust the Canadian Blood Services as they do not see how the organisation is implementing practices to incorporate diverse practices and account for anti-black racism.