A Toronto firm that was paid to keep potentially life-saving stem cells from the children of around 3,000 clients throughout Canada is now alleging in a lawsuit that all of the samples were destroyed over three years ago. Clients of Cord Blood Bank of Canada (CBBC) claim that owner Bernartka Ellison never notified them that their children’s samples were no longer viable — and that, in some cases, the company charged them the annual storage fee after the samples were allegedly destroyed.
The mother from Georgina, Ontario, is one of a few consumers who verified that they were charged for storing their child’s umbilical cord blood after Ellison claimed all samples were destroyed in October 2018. Callaghan was last charged in July of this year.
The most recent accusation regarding the destruction of the samples is the latest in a string of discoveries that Ellison never directly conveyed to clients. The lack of openness, which some clients had previously dismissed as bad management, has now left some parents feeling cheated out of the opportunity to assist their children should they require it.
“We don’t do this as parents because we have money to burn,” said Callaghan, who estimates she’s paid $3,500 on initial costs and annual storage since her 15-year-old daughter was born. According to Health Canada, umbilical cord blood includes stem cells that can be utilised to treat certain health problems such as leukaemia.