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Family Bank: Cells for Life

Cells for Life


Cells for Life is one of the oldest and largest accredited Canadian-owned cord blood banks and has stored almost 50,000 cord blood units since 1997.  

This high-quality bank is measured by multiple accreditations by respected international bodies:  AABB (American Association of Blood Banks) and FACT (Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapies) and, most importantly, its 100% transplant success rate over multiple medical releases to patients in need.

In addition to cord blood, CFL offers cord tissue services using patented state-of-the-art technology. Parents are provided proof that their tissue’s Mesenchymal cells grow.

Labs and Locations

Laboratory: Cells for Life is the only Canadian cord blood company with their processing lab and storage facility located inside a hospital. Cells for Life facility at Toronto General Hospital affords 24-hour security, emergency back-up power and on-site backup liquid nitrogen. Located in Toronto’s Hospital and Discovery District, it is connected to leading treatment hospitals (SickKids and Princess Margaret) through underground tunnels. This provides safe and efficient transport of frozen samples for medical treatment.

Cells for Life also has offices in Markham, Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal to make cord blood and tissue banking accessible to all Canadians coast-to-coast.

Business Experience

Cells for Life understands that parents want to ensure that their baby’s cord blood stem cells are not only safely processed and stored but that the highest quality measures are in place.  Parents want to give their family the best chance of medical success should they be used in the years to come.  This is a trusted relationship. The Cells for Life founder, Dr. Michael Virro, has instilled a long-standing culture at Cells for Life that permeates all activities. He repeats, ‘Treat every single cord blood sample as if it is saving your life, your child’s life or your grandchild’s life 50 years from now.  Every quality program must be put in place to ensure that these cells are safe for medical use.’ This culture dictates both business and scientific practices. 

Parents are invited to gain further insight into Cells for Life.  Here are a few ways:

  • Free webinars and information sessions to learn more about the science of cord blood. 
  • Guided tours of our lab are available upon request – parents can see where the cord blood is stored and all the safe-guards in place to ensure future safety. 
  • Communications continue after the baby is born to keep parents abreast of changes in the industry and how Cells for Life maintains its high quality programs. 

Here are some ways to measure commitment to quality:

  • Cells for Life has been the expert in cord blood banking since 1997 with single ownership throughout this time to manage growth with strong ethical business practices. 
  • Being one of the first cord blood banks in Canada to obtain AABB (2004) and FACT (2012) accreditation, Cells for Life is also Health Canada Inspected & Compliant (CTO #100044). Their commitment to storing samples in a safe, clean, and secure facility has rendered a 100% transplant success rate.
  • Cells for Life has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. 
  • Their exemplary scientific team is headed by Dr. Elisabeth Semple, an internationally recognized leader in the field of stem cells. Her years of experience and strict adherence to quality standards have led her and Cells for Life to national and international conferences to showcase outstanding research and published data.
  • Cells for Life always stays up-to-date on new, cutting edge research so it’s continually aware of the latest applications and uses of cord blood stem cells.

Collection Kit

Cells for Life’s collection kit has undergone over 18 months of scientific development to afford maximum protection to the collected cord blood and tissue during transit. 

Cells for Life is the only private Canadian cord blood bank that uses the MacoPharma Collection bag, which features a unique CPD flush pad that has been shown to increase the number of collected cells by 13%*. Its unique collection bag is also approved for both caesarean and vaginal births.

* Reference: June 16, 2016. SOGC Abstract. FLUSH! A SIMPLE TIP TO INCREASE COLLECTION VOLUMES OF CORD BLOOD, Authors Michael Virro, Donna Malcolm, Patrick Storr, Leanne Casbourn, Eva Friedman, & Elizabeth Semple

Transportation container

The Cells for Life collection kit is designed to protect against temperature fluctuations – an important factor during Canada’s cold winters and hot summers. Phase Change Materials are designed within the kit for maximum protection.  The use of a data logger helps monitor the temperature throughout the shipping process to ensure that every sample is safe during transportation. Cells for Life also tests the collection kit on a regular basis to verify that its temperature remains within acceptable limits at all times.

Shipping Info

Cells for Life arranges the shipping for all clients coast to coast, using different shipping methods depending on the birthing hospital.

  1. Localized personalized service: Cells for Life employees pick up cord blood units from the mother’s bedside at more than 40 different hospitals in Southern Ontario, the GTA, Calgary, and Montreal so parents can enjoy quality time with their baby after birth.
  2. All other locations in Canada: Cells for Life uses approved medical couriers throughout Canada to give parents the peace of mind that their sample is always in good hands. 

Cells for Life’s bedside pick-up and in-bound shipping rates are cost effective. In most cases, a portion of the shipping fee is subsidized by Cells for Life. Please contact Cells for Life shipping department for more details: 1-877-235-1997 x 229.

Processing Method

Cord blood processing at Cells for Life is done by one of two semi-automated, closed processing methods, which provide high cell recovery rates and excellent cell viability. They use a process referred to as the “top-and-bottom” method. The addition of a starch solution, as done by some companies, is not required with our methods.

Cord tissue processing at Cells for Life is done using a patented, state-of-the-art "TRT" technology. Cells for Life is the only Canadian cord bank using this superior method, which safely stores and isolates the cells that matter most in cord tissue - MSC’s. As well, parents are provided with proof that the cells are healthy and able to grow, which is a requirement for these cells to be used in treatment. 

Components Stored

Cord Blood: Cells for Life stores the buffy coat containing the blood-forming (Hematopoietic) stem cells.

Cord Tissue: Cells for Life isolates the MSC’s (Mesenchymal Stem Cells) within the vessels of the cord tissue.

Storage Method

  • Cord Blood Units are stored over-wrapped in 25mL cryobags, with three segments, placed in a stainless steel protective canister.
  • All Cord Blood Units and Cord Tissue samples are placed in quarantine until receipt of infectious disease testing.
  • Both Cord Blood and Tissue is stored in the vapour phase of liquid nitrogen at all times.

Licensing & Accreditation

Cells for Life is:
•    Health Canada inspected and compliant (CTO# 100044)
•    AABB accredited since 2004
•    FACT accredited since 2012
•    FDA Registered
•    A+ rating with the US Better Business Bureau

Cells for Life has an elite level of accreditation.  A 2015 industry report published by Parents’ Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, shows that only 5 cord blood banks in the world have both AABB & FACT accreditation. Cells for Life is one of these five.

Clinical Experience

  • Since 1997, Cells for Life has stored almost 50,000 cord blood units. 
  • Ten samples have been released for therapy.
    • Seven units were released for use at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada. Six of these samples were used for sibling transplants (allogeneic) in the treatment of Hematological Diseases, and one child used their own sample for therapy (autologous) in the treatment of a brain tumour.
    • Two children used their own cord blood unit for therapy (autologous) at Duke University Hospital in the United States for treatment of hypoxic brain injury. The first child had suffered from a stroke before birth. This child’s ability to move has greatly improved.  The second child is undergoing treatment now. 
    • The most recent sample was released to treat an adult in Quebec who used his sibling’s cord blood to treat leukemia.  

Most important is the fact that there is a 100% engraftment record in these transplants.  This validates that are services meet the highest quality standards and successfully save lives.  


Cells for Life will not increase the annual storage fees for the length of the contract.

Community Service

Cells for Life was the first Canadian cord blood bank to establish a medical need program in 2002. This program was recently named ‘Canadian Sibling Transplant Program’. Cells for Life covers the costs for expectant parents with a family member who is currently suffering from a disease that can be treated with cord blood stem cells.

Cells for Life also supports public banking by donating significant financial support and effort to Victoria Angel Registry of Hope.  This FACT-accredited public cord blood bank accepts donated cord blood from expectant parents and makes it available internationally for medical treatment and scientific research.  Cells for Life’s laboratory is accredited to provide laboratory and storage services to Victoria Angel’s public program.   

Cells for Life is committed to educating parents with scientifically-based information.  We believe that a Canadian foundation of high-quality family and public banks is needed to support the needs of our diverse population.  We want to keep valuable cord blood from going to waste. More stored cord blood means that more families have an increased chance of finding a matched unit.


Option 1: Cord Blood, Annual Payment  

  • At registration: $140.00 for collection kit (non-refundable)
  • After birth: $860.00 (processing and medical testing)
  • Annual storage fee: $125.00
  • Total cost: $1,125.00 (taxes and courier fees extra)

Option 2: Cord Blood, 18-year pre-payment - SAVE $400.00

  • At registration: $140.00 for collection kit (non-refundable)
  • At birth: $860.00 (processing and medical testing)
  • Cord blood storage: $1,850.00
  • Total cost: $2,850.00 (taxes and courier fees extra)

Option 3: Cord Tissue, Annual Payment

  • At registration: $140.00
  • At birth: $850.00
  • Cord tissue storage: $125.00
  • Total cost: $1,115.00 (taxes and courier fees extra)

Option 4: Cord Tissue & Cord Blood, Annual Payment

  • At registration: $165.00
  • At birth: $1,535.00
  • Cord & tissue storage: $250.00
  • Total cost: $1,950.00 (taxes and courier fees extra)

Storage Fees Options

  • Annual: $125 per year (plus tax), no increase for 18 years
  • Pay in Advance 18 years$1,850 (plus tax)saves $400

Payment Plans & Discounts

  • Returning Clients: Receive $125 off cord blood/cord tissue processing
  • Referral Program: Refer a friend or family member to reduce your annual storage fee.
  • Twins/Multiple Births: Receive $300 in savings
  • 3 Payment Plan: 3 consecutive monthly installments ($25 administrative fee included)
  • 12 Month Plan: 12 consecutive monthly installments ($25 administrative fee included)
  • 18 Year Plan: 18 year pay in advance installment plans available please visit

*References on file:

Address: 379 Church Street, Markham, Ontario L6B 0T1, Canada
Phone Numbers
(Toll Free): 1-877-235-1997 (Sans Frais): 1-877-714-7007 (Chinese): 1-888-268-1888