A Toronto company was paid for storing potentially life-saving stem cells from the children of approximately 3,000 customers across Canada, and now claims in the lawsuit that all samples stored by the company had been destroyed nearly three years ago.

But customers of the Canadian Cord Blood Bank (CBBC) stated that the owner Bernartka Ellison never told them that their children’s samples were no longer feasible—and in some cases, the company was After the samples were allegedly destroyed, the customer was charged an annual storage fee.

“I feel deceived,” Shannon Callahan said. “I am very angry with the whole situation.”

The mother in Georgina, Ontario was one of the few customers who confirmed to CBC News. They were accused of storing the child’s cord blood after Ellison claimed that all samples were destroyed in October 2018.

Callahan was last charged in July 2019.

The recent statement about sample destruction is the latest in a series of revelations that Ellison has never directly communicated with customers. The lack of transparency — some customers previously thought of poor management — now makes some parents feel cheated if they need the opportunity to help their children.

Shannon Callaghan took a photo with her newborn daughter Sara in 2006. (Submitted by Shannon Callahan)

“As parents, we don’t do this because we have money to burn,” said Callahan, who estimates that since the birth of her 15-year-old daughter, she has spent $3,500 on initial expenses and annual storage.

“I have cancer in my family; if I can do something for my child, if it should be passed on to her, I want to know that I have done my part,” she said.

According to Health Canada, cord blood contains stem cells and can be used to treat certain health conditions, such as leukemia.

Ellison “is” collecting information for class actions

CBC News contacted Ellison to try to understand why the owner of the CBBC did not tell customers that all samples were allegedly destroyed nearly three years ago, and why some customers are still being charged.

In a series of emails, Ellison did not directly respond to CBC News’ questions.

But Ellison did say that they are “collecting information for reputable Canadian cord blood bank customers to join our class action certification,” targeting those who the company claims to destroy samples.

Ellison used their/their pronouns. He had used another name before. He told CBC News that each customer can receive $300,000 per sample from the “perpetrator”.

The company failed Health Canada inspections in 2015

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News first reported on this Toronto company Four years ago, when a customer discovered that CBBC had failed Health Canada’s inspection in 2015, it meant that the company could only store samples for the use of its source, but not for others.

Ellison did not share this change with the company’s customers. Many of them stated that they were selling this service based on the potential use of stem cells for family members.

In a court document, CBBC stated that it only stores samples for personal use.

Watch | Mother Ontario reacted to the Toronto company’s claim that all samples were destroyed:

Shannon Callaghan, a customer of the Canadian Cord Blood Bank, responded to the Toronto company’s claim in the lawsuit that all cord blood samples stored by the company were destroyed nearly three years ago. 0:29

According to Health Canada, the so-called storage policy makes the samples impossible to use at all, because the possibility that someone’s own stem cells can be used to treat them is very low.

So how many parents Trying to transfer samples of their children To another facility.

CBC News previously reported that a couple in Waterloo, Ontario transferred a sample of their child to another cord blood bank in February 2019. Since then, The couple initiated a $600,000 lawsuit against the CBBC Its owner allegedly failed to properly store the samples to ensure that they could be used for medical purposes.

Ellison denied all the allegations in the lawsuit.

In a defense statement, CBBC believes that the couple’s decision to move the sample put them at risk, “This is the most likely cause of the reduced stem cell viability in the sample.”

The case is still in court.

Toronto police investigate Ellison extortion

Ellison claimed that all samples were destroyed in 2018—before the samples of the Waterloo couple were transferred—in connection with another customer trying to transfer their child’s cord blood.

Toronto police executed a search warrant at the Canadian Cord Blood Bank Laboratory in the eastern end of the city in October 2018 to obtain samples of a couple in Ontario as part of the blackmail investigation against Ellison, according to the copy of the information used (ITO ) To justify the search warrant.

Toronto police executed a search warrant in the Canadian Cord Blood Bank laboratory in this building at 1450 O’Connor Avenue in Toronto in October 2018. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

ITO includes a summary of the case written by the chief investigator, which states that Ellison will not allow the transfer of samples of the Ontario couple until the customer has paid nearly $16,000 in preparation and transfer fees, and Ellison stated that if there is no payment, Eri Sen will destroy the samples.

The detective also wrote in the ITO, “After further investigation, it was found that the price recommended to the customer is much higher than the charges of any other cord blood facility. Therefore, Ellison is extorting money from the customer.”

Toronto Police spokesman Connie Osborne told CBC News that no charges were made against Ellison. But Osborne said she could not comment further because she had already filed a public complaint related to the investigation to the Office of the Independent Police Review Officer (OIPRD).

In an email, Ellison argued that the signed search warrant obtained by CBC News from a Toronto court was fraudulent and stated that the attorney general’s office told them that the search warrant was “never granted”.

Ellison sues Toronto Police, University Health Network

In April, Ellison sued the Toronto Police Department, Ontario couple, University Health Network (UHN) and other individuals for police investigation and execution of the arrest warrant against Ellison, with a total claim of 3.5 million US dollars.

No defense statement has been submitted in the case, and the case is still in court.

In their statement of claim, Ellison claimed that during the execution of the search warrant, UHN employees and police removed the Ontario couple’s samples and “rummaged through the storage unit of the laboratory, from a storage temperature of approximately 150 degrees. Hundreds of samples were taken out and exposed to room temperature, which is known to cause cord blood degradation.”

In June of this year, Ellison further advanced this claim in the second of two defamation lawsuits that Ellison filed against CBC.

“All samples are in [Ellison’s] Under the guidance of the Toronto Police Department, two employees of the University Health Network destroyed the business,” Ellison said in the statement of claim.

A UHN spokesperson told CBC News in an email that it has no record of the individuals mentioned in the lawsuit being employed by UHN.

“UHN employees will not be required to accompany the Toronto Police Department in this way,” said spokesperson Gillian Howard.

Ellison told CBC News in an email that the information provided by UHN was inaccurate.

“I feel cheated,” the customer said

In the past four years, more than 50 CBBC customers from across the country contacted CBC News to seek answers about their children’s cord blood samples.

Monique Chisholm is one of them. Antigonish’s mother said that she felt very uncomfortable when she learned that Ellison claimed that all samples were destroyed in 2018.

Monique and Wade Chisholm decided to store the cord blood of their youngest son Killian (left) so that the stem cells could one day help their eldest son Cullan (middle), who suffered brain damage at birth. (Submitted by Monique Chisholm)

“If all the samples are damaged, how could it be possible [Ellison] Don’t let us know? “Chisholm said, “I just don’t know if this whole story is as simple as someone with poor management skills.”

“I feel cheated.”

In 2014, Chisholm and her husband decided to store the cord blood of their youngest son Kilian. The couple made this decision partly because they hoped that medical advances might mean that Killian’s stem cells could help his brother Cullan, who suffered brain damage at birth.

“The idea is to help heal our son’s brain, hopefully someday,” Chisholm said.

Like Callahan, Chisholm was charged an annual storage fee in February 2019-after Ellison said the samples were destroyed.

The two women also paid for additional testing, which the company said was necessary in order to use the samples for other family members when necessary.

Ellison did not answer CBC News’s question on why the company provides the testing service. If, as it claims, CBBC only stores samples for personal use.

Watch | Mom in Nova Scotia says she feels “lied”:

Monique Chisholm, a customer of the Cord Blood Bank of Canada, talked about how the lack of communication in the Toronto company made the mother of two children feel “cheated.” 0:31

Now Callahan and Chisholm are seeking accountability from Ellison.

Callahan said: “I think if these samples are destroyed… they will not comply with the contract deadline.” “They did not advise me. They are not very transparent.”

Chisholm said customers should hear Ellison’s news directly.

“[Ellison] There is a lot of explanation to do,” she told CBC News. “I think [Ellison] Owe myself and everyone [their] Customers like Zoom phones. ”


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