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A lab worker reaches into a dewar at the Cord Blood Registry offices in Tucson on Nov. 21, 2006. Health Canada has issued a warning about umbilical cord blood stored at a facility in Edmonton.Jack Kurtz/The Canadian Press

Health Canada has issued a warning about umbilical cord blood stored at a facility in Edmonton.

The warning affects all cord blood at the Canadian Cord Blood bioRepository that was collected, processed, tested or stored between March 1, 2014, and present.

Health Canada says “significant” issues identified at the site could lead to contamination or the transmission of infectious diseases.

The department says concerns included an environment that was unclean or cleaned with expired disinfectants, and inadequate measures to monitor conditions in areas where cord blood is processed, tested and stored.

It says it found other issues related to a lack of qualified personnel, the use of uncalibrated equipment, not following established processes and a lack of proper record-keeping.

Health Canada says it has asked the Canadian Cord Blood bioRepository to notify customers of safety concerns; stop collecting, processing, testing and storing cord blood under unsanitary conditions; and provide a plan detailing measures it will put in place to address the issues outlined.

The department also identified online advertising suggesting cord blood can be used by people other than the donor, even though the organization is only allowed to store cord blood for use by the donor.

It says anyone with cord blood stored at the Edmonton facility or with a contract to store there should contact the organization for options, and that anyone wanting to use their stored cord blood should have it tested prior to release by a qualified third party.

The Canadian Cord Blood bioRepository did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cord blood is blood left over in the umbilical cord connected to the placenta after childbirth. It is rich in stem cells and can be used in treatment for blood and immune system disorders such as leukemia, myeloma and lymphoma.

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