Jennifer Ciavaglia

Jennifer is a Senior Advisor in Health Policy at Canadian Blood Services working out of our head office in Ottawa. 

Honouring a courageous blood safety advocate 20 years after the Krever Commission


Thursday, November 09, 2017

The James Kreppner Award Program supports legal research relevant to Canadian Blood Services. This year’s award competition closes November 30.

Nov. 26 marks the 20th anniversary of Canada’s public inquiry into the contaminated blood crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, which culminated in Justice Horace Krever’s recommendations for a national, accountable, public blood service.

 

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In response to the tragedy, governments of the day created Canadian Blood Services in September of 1998. The organization is observing Krever anniversary in several ways. One of these is drawing attention to the award given in the name of the late James Kreppner.

James Kreppner was a lawyer and patients’ rights advocate. He had a severe form of hemophilia-A, a genetic disorder that makes it difficult for blood to clot, and his condition often required transfusions of blood products. In 1985, he became infected with HIV and hepatitis C through tainted blood products.

Because of his experience, Mr. Kreppner became a key figure in establishing the public inquiry into contaminated blood and testified twice before the Commission. He was also a longtime volunteer and member of the Canadian Hemophilia Society and eventually became a much-valued member of   the Canadian Blood Services’ board of directors.

The James Kreppner award was established posthumously to honour his contributions to Canada’s blood system and his commitment to blood safety.

Research priorities for the James Kreppner Award include the legal and regulatory aspects of (a) donation, collection, storage, and use of blood, blood products, and hematopoietic stem cells; and (b) organ and tissue donation and transplantation. The 2017 Award will support one project with up to $50,000 for a period of one year. This year’s competition closes Nov. 30, 2017.

Past recipients have found the award opened the door to a highly positive experience:

 “In short, this fellowship has been an incredibly rewarding experience that has allowed me to integrate into a fantastic community of clinicians, researchers, and professionals from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds. And in the process, I’ve pursued interesting research, shared my work all over the country and abroad, and built relationships and opportunities for collaboration that will continue well beyond the fellowship as I embark on the next phase of my career.”

~  Maeghan Toews, 2014 James Kreppner Award recipient.

 

Find out more about past James Kreppner Award program projects:
  • 2016 - The role of stakeholder trust in OTDT policy change: public and professional attitudes to ante-mortem interventions in organ donation
  • 2015 - Organ donation in Canada: Engaging with stakeholders and proposing solutions to current legal and ethical challenges
  • 2014 - Legal and policy strategies to optimize organ donation in Alberta
Further reading:

 


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.

Encouraging meaningful careers in STEM – Part 2


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

To encourage more young people to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math, and in honour of Ada Lovelace Day 2017, we are pleased to share profiles of women in these essential fields at Canadian Blood Services.

We chose these stories in particular because they share a common theme of both perseverance and flexibility. They represent just a sampling of the convergence of skills, abilities and professional backgrounds that support Canada’s national blood system, its related activities, and the patients it serves.

Part One shares words of wisdom from the field of Science and Medicine. 

women in STEM

Words of wisdom from the fields of Technology, Engineering and Math

Technology

Colette Hutten, IT Projects Director, IT Project Management Office

 

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My interest in information technology started in  high school. The school I attended was connected to the Ottawa University computer lab. We could use punch cards (well not actually punched, as we had to colour in the spots that would normally be punched!) to write a computer program and send them to Ottawa U. They were read by the computer there then returned to us to discover whether our program worked. We also had a Pet Commodore 64 in the classroom that used cassette tapes to record our programs.  It was all very new and exciting, at the time. 

I went to Algonquin College for Business Administration  with an aim to work in accounting.   I found accounting rather boring, however, but my interest in computers and programming expanded. I had a passion and a knack for figuring out how to solve bugs in computer programs and how to solve business problems.  I was hooked!  I completed my three-year business administration program with a major in data processing and was recruited as a Cobol programmer for Metropolitan Life. I worked as a programmer for many years before moving into team lead/project management roles.  I’ve changed companies and roles many times over the years, but have always worked with implementing technology and processes to enable and bring efficiencies to business processes.

With the pace that technology changes, there is always something new to learn and a challenge to face.  If you enjoy learning new things and being challenged, working in IT is a great place to be. It’s also a place where anyone can make a difference.  Who knew, all those years ago when I was filling out spots on punch cards, that one day my smart phone would have more computing power than the mainframe at Ottawa U that read those punch cards back in high school. 

 


Cathy Jones, Manager of IT Strategy and Execution

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I actually never planned to work in information technology. My initial training in medical laboratory technology brought me to Canadian Blood Services almost 15 years ago. Since then, I have continuously updated my skills and made important connections that have exposed me to a variety of truly interesting opportunities, including my work in IT.

As I learned more about myself through my personal and professional life, I understood how I want to contribute and be challenged in my career. My advice to a young person considering a career in IT is to get exposed to the field: volunteer, find a mentor, participate in discussion groups (online and in person). It’s also important to constantly update your skills. Technology changes so incredibly fast, you need to keep changing with it.

 


Engineering

Alana Robertson, Associate Director, LEAN

When graduating high school, my mom encouraged me to pursue an engineering degree, something I hadn’t previously considered. I saw myself in a biology-related field. After my first year of university (and some reflection on my mother’s advice), I realized that I had a passion for math and that engineering would open more doors for me careerwise — if I wanted to become a teacher, for example, I could do that with an engineering degree or apply it to various jobs. It meant putting in some extra hard work for a short time, but with a big pay-off in the long term. I can now work in almost any industry, as my education has provided me with a transferrable skillset that is in high demand.

 

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I honestly believe that anyone can find the career path that is right for them within engineering. Here are some examples of where engineers I personally know have taken their degree:

  • Planning inventory and other important roles for companies like Walmart, Canadian Tire, and Loblaws
  • Designing cars
  • Working in cosmetics
  • Designing technology for Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Sonos and Apple
  • Becoming a doctor
  • Teaching

One female engineer I know even worked on the front line during the Fort McMurray fires. I know engineers whose degrees have taken them to Brazil, Australia, U.K., Norway, and the list goes on. I personally went from the tech industry to healthcare. For most engineers I know, it has been very easy to find work, and work in a job they love in a tough economy. The degree was hard work, but it’s an investment in the next 30+ years of your life, and a great starting point for so many diverse career paths.

 


Rana Chreyh, Director, Program Management, Information Technology

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In my twelfth-grade mind, engineering as a career was driven by a fascination with science, competency in math and interest in real-world applications. Although I had some regrets about having little room for subjects like language arts or humanities, I was confident I had made an exciting and pragmatic choice. Little did I know that the promise of engineering was far greater than I had anticipated. It took years of practice and maturity to understand and then internalize the significance of engineering as a calling, and its profound impact on society and the world.

My advice to young people is to explore engineering (an applied science), as an opportunity to contribute to societal benefit, at scale. My plea to girls and young women is to undo traditional stereotypes that tie engineers to childhood preoccupation with objects, like “toy trains” or tools.

Engineering enables you to contribute to society with scientific creativity and opens many doors to leadership. The world needs your under-tapped talent in STEM. The world needs you!

 


Math

Pauline Port, Chief Financial Officer and Vice-President, Corporate Services

 

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I started out working for a new business in a financial area that interfaced with auditors. I liked the work and found satisfaction in helping an entrepreneur succeed. I also liked to solve problems. A solid grounding in accounting provided me a toolkit for problem-solving and the opportunity to work in many different areas.

I have heard all the jokes about boring accountants, even from my own family! However, my career has afforded me with some thrilling moments, such as ensuring that refugees in Northern Kenya were receiving food and education, and being part of building the new blood system at Canadian Blood Services.

My advice is to follow what you love to do. Take on new assignments and gain new experience — your supervisor will be impressed. Work in an environment you feel comfortable in and with people you enjoy. Volunteer with an organization that you are passionate about.

There are many twists and turns in a career, and starting out, it is difficult. There are some long hours that you have to put in, but remember the importance of a work/life balance. Family and a social life make for a happier, more productive life.

 

In case you missed it... Read part one, words of wisdom from the field of science and medicine

 


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Canadian Blood Services promotes leading practices and is actively involved in raising awareness and education of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. We maintain patient registries and help save and improve lives though research and innovation and by working closely with the organ and tissue donation and transplantation community.

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services.

Encouraging meaningful careers in STEM – Part 1


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

To encourage more young people to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math, and in honour of Ada Lovelace Day 2017, we are pleased to share profiles of women in these essential fields at Canadian Blood Services.

We chose these stories in particular because they share a common theme of both perseverance and flexibility. They represent just a sampling of the convergence of skills, abilities and professional backgrounds that support Canada’s national blood system, its related activities, and the patients it serves.

 

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Words of wisdom from the field of Science

Dr. Michelle Zeller, Medical Officer

Assistant Professor, Division of Hematology & Thromboembolism, Department of Medicine, McMaster University

Academic lead, Transfusion Medicine, Hamilton Health Sciences

Program Director, Transfusion Medicine AFC Diploma Program, McMaster University

 

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Looking back, my path seems like a straight line, but at the time, each step was an independent decision influenced by incredible mentors, new-found exciting subject matters, and challenging patients.

I had the great fortune of being mentored by remarkable individuals who inspired and encouraged me – by their compassion, dedication, and medical contributions – to enter medicine, then hematology, medical education and finally transfusion medicine.

I was similarly influenced by subject matter; for example, hematology is a dynamic field that offers century-old therapies (e.g. blood-letting) along with novel therapies (e.g. targeted immune-therapy) to treat diseases that span benign to malignant, acute to chronic and indolent to aggressive. This specialty allows me to move between bedside patient care and laboratory investigation and analysis to make diagnoses, determine prognoses and follow impacts of management. I chose to further specialise in transfusion medicine because of its intriguing complexities and because it provided an excellent platform to support my interest in medical education. There are knowledge gaps around how blood is collected, processed and transfused; working at Canadian Blood Services has given me the tools to advocate, research and educate towards closing these gaps.

Daily, my patients inspire me with their complex conditions, graciousness, bravery and thoughtful contributions to their care. Choosing medicine as a career means committing many, many hours of hard work. It is extremely humbling and gratifying, and I am thrilled to learn something new everyday.

To young people considering a career in STEM,  I have four pieces of advice:

  1. Don’t let fear keep you from pursuing your dreams. As a child, I would cry/faint when getting a needle or having blood taken. My family members have noted (on more than one occasion) the irony that I who had such a fear of blood and needles now work as a blood doctor, performing bone marrow procedures on patients with giant needles, surrounded by fridges of blood! I got over my fear of needles when my 94-year-old grandfather needed a weekly injection of erythropoietin and I volunteered to administer the injections. I remember how calm and appreciative he was with each injection. Each time, he would say “Mickey, you are so gentle!” with a smile.
  2. Take strength from those around you and develop strategies to move forward. Caring for patients with hematologic malignancies like acute leukemia, aggressive lymphoma and multiple myeloma has taught me many lessons about resilience, hope, strength, grace and humility. I am motivated by my patients. However, I have also been deeply saddened by their loss and that has made me grateful for every day spent in health with those I love.
  3. Accept as much help as you can find, and/or hire as much help as you can afford. As a woman in medicine who is constantly balancing being a wife and mom, caring for patients, training professionals, and pursuing an ambitious academic career, I have benefited from a LOT of help along the way. I would not have made it through 16 (!) years of post-secondary education without my supportive network of family, childcare, friends and colleagues.
  4. Use your time effectively. Building a loving family is compatible with enjoying a STEM career. Manage both work and home time efficiently and effectively, delegating where possible. Carve out moments for yourself and cherish occasions with your family! I remember being 34 weeks pregnant with my second child, mom to a busy 20-month-old, still a hematology trainee, studying for my hematology licensing exams, having recently started a Masters in Health Professions Education and feeling very overwhelmed. I got through each day, one task at a time – focussed and efficient. I set aside time to spend with my son, time to study and had a lot of help with childcare from my husband, parents and in-laws. My successes were that much sweeter sharing them with loved ones who were and are integral to my journey.

Dr. Heidi Elmoazzen, Director, Cord Blood Bank and Stem Cell Manufacturing

Growing up I always had a strong interest in math and science and making the connection between these disciplines and the everyday world we live in.  During my graduate degree I started taking an interest in cryobiology – the study of life at low temperatures, particularly freezing cells and tissues for transplant and reproductive medicine. I was able to do some cutting-edge research including working with endangered leopards at the Smithsonian Zoo in Washington DC, as well as working with various IVF clinics helping women undergoing cancer treatment or dealing with fertility issues with freezing their eggs. 

 

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My current position as the director of Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank has probably been the role that has given me the most pride. Being a part of building a program from the ground up, and seeing patients actually receiving cord blood stem cell transplants, has been extremely rewarding.

My chosen path has given me a career that I love and that I feel very fortunate to have. It is not every one who can say they get to do something they love and have a direct impact on saving and improving lives. As with any career there are challenges. However, I would advise anyone who is thinking about their career path to find something they are passionate about and that they love doing and success will surely follow! 


Dr. Chantale Pambrun, Associate Medical Director, Donor and Clinical Services

I have always enjoyed science and math because of the logical thinking required. I ended up studying laboratory medicine — hematopathology — where my passion for detective work (e.g., diagnosing) could be applied.

I was influenced by a great mentor, an anatomical pathologist, who gave a lecture on the work she did with unmarked graves in Bosnia from the Cold War. She had a fascinating career and made an impact on people’s lives. Her story opened my world to pathology.

 

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I have also had both male and female role models from the STEM fields, so a career in the field always seemed attainable to me. .I am thankful for a career in medicine and to be working for an organization that respects my opinions,  equally as those from my colleagues. Today I enjoy a broad scope of practice. I work in a challenging environment where I can apply my knowledge and experience to solve the problems of the day.

To those considering a career in STEM: find your goal. Not the tangible end-product, but an intangible state of being. Be open to alternative paths. Be flexible and be resilient because the path to your goal may not be as you initially envisioned. If you're open to something that might feel slightly uncomfortable, you might uncover something that truly ignites your passion.  

Try to find balance in your roles. As a child, sibling, friend, wife, mother, and doctor, I have a duty to respect my limits and to tend to those around me. I believe we have a social responsibility to those coming up behind us, to model behaviors, attitudes and values that will continue to grow and improve our fields. The outcome is a better human experience.

Finally, diversity of thought is an asset that comes from individuals who have had different experiences. When diversity is infused into strategic planning, leadership, human resource development and change management, it makes for a balanced and holistic approach. Your contributions can engage others to move forward as a collective. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas.

 


Dr. Sandra Ramirez-Arcos, Development Scientist, Centre for Innovation

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been fascinated by the sciences. After finishing high school in my home country Colombia, I decided to study medicine. However, at the time, medical school was only open once per year at the university where I intended to study. I then decided to register to microbiology for one semester until I could apply to medicine. After only one week of being in the program, I knew that I wanted to be a microbiologist, and I have never looked back.

 

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It is difficult to explain but “bugs” became my passion very quickly as I realized that the potential application of the microbiology field was enormous. I practiced industrial microbiology for a few years before getting involved in clinical microbiology, which led me to work at Canadian Blood Services.

Here, I have seen my passion rewarded in many ways. Each small or big project brings me excitement as I anticipate the learning experience and the impact that these studies have on improving the safety of our blood products. I am a microbiologist at heart!

I would recommend to any young person who wants to study science to trust their instinct and do not get discouraged by the many challenges that they will encounter. Working in research and development is not always easy and it is important to be passionate about it and have an open mind for change, and embrace the unexpected. Especially to young women, I would advise them to believe in their ability to excel, to dream big, to not let anyone tell them that what they have in mind is impossible. And, very importantly, I recommend to young women that they balance their personal life with the demands of a successful career. Balance can be challenging but it is necessary to truly enjoy our work.


Roya Pasha, Senior Development Assistant, Centre for Innovation

My interest in biological sciences started at a young age. I remember being keenly interested in science shows on TV about human karyotyping when I was only in middle school. Later on, my studies took me in a different direction, both academically and geographically. I began in chemistry, and through my graduate degrees I shifted toward research in biochemistry and biological products. 

 

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For me, family has always been the most important priority in my life. However, I have learned that when you are passionate about your work, other priorities will not compromise your aspirations. Instead, opportunities will present themselves along the path, both big and small, which allow you to enjoy a fulfilling career while raising a family. 

A few words of advice to young people pursuing a rewarding career in STEM: Know your general area of interest and stick to it. Don’t worry if plans don't always go accordingly. In research as in life this is a rarity; you will find your path eventually. Good research is accomplished through team work, so always value others’ contributions. Finally, one of the most important factors for successful work in research is to find a good mentor and learn from  that person.

 


Dr. Tanya Petraszko, Associate Medical Director (West) – Medical Services and Innovation

 

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“Science” drives my everyday life as well as my career. I am constantly asking my family to justify their claims. That’s science. Prove it, I say, tell me something, teach me something, ask me something and show me the evidence for or against your claim. This process for gathering evidence is everywhere in medicine. It is part of how I was I trained and part of how I live life, but it is sorely lacking in the media and socially.

Today, I would encourage young people to carefully consider the evidence and make their decisions accordingly. Make fact checking part of their daily consumption of media and how they navigate the world and how they choose a career path. In training and working in medicine, I am fortunate to have this evidence-based filter to see the world through and I’m grateful for that.

 

 

In part 2 of Encouraging meaningful careers in STEM , we hear  words of wisdom from the fields of Technology, Engineering and Math. 

 


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Canadian Blood Services promotes leading practices and is actively involved in raising awareness and education of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. We maintain patient registries and help save and improve lives though research and innovation and by working closely with the organ and tissue donation and transplantation community.

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services.

Better Now: A Q&A with Dr. Graham Sher on Dr. Danielle Martin's six big ideas to improve health care for Canadians


Thursday, June 01, 2017

At Canadian Blood Services’ board of directors’ retreat in April, Dr. Danielle Martin spoke to the board and executive management team about her book, Better Now: Six Big Ideas to Improve Health Care for All Canadians, and her vision for health care in the future.

In Chapter 6, “From Pilot Project to System Solution,” Dr. Martin discusses the Highly Sensitized Patient program, a pan-Canadian organ-sharing program that uses its national scale to facilitate kidney transplants for hard-to-match patients. It's led by Canadian Blood Services in partnership with organ donation and transplantation system partners across the country. In this chapter, Dr. Martin tells the story of a patient named Jonah who received a life-changing kidney transplant via this program after being on dialysis for 15 years. 

The chapter highlights the need for systems-level change through spread and scale of innovations like the Highly Sensitized Patient program, both at the pan-Canadian level in which Canadian Blood Services operates, and at the regional and provincial levels. More broadly, the book outlines five other big ideas for changing Canada’s health-care system to improve patients’ health. Ranging from national pharmacare, to fewer unnecessary tests and interventions, to basic income for basic health, they are all bold, “big picture” approaches to health policy.

 

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Dr. Danielle Martin, author of Better Now: Six Big Ideas to Improve Health Care for All Canadians, presents to Canadian Blood Services' Board.

A Q&A with Dr. Graham Sher

Earlier in May, we interviewed Canadian Blood Services’ CEO Dr. Graham Sher about Dr. Martin’s talk and her interaction with the board of directors.

Tell me about the board’s discussion at with Dr. Martin.

Danielle has a rare talent: she makes complex policy discussions about the need for health-care transformation engaging, informative and highly accessible. Certainly she is one of the most relevant and approachable speakers the board has heard. Her use of storytelling in her book was really well received because it gives both a patient perspective and a window into a number of worlds: her practice as a family physician, her perspective as a health administrator, and her research and thinking as a health policy specialist. She was able to leverage the authenticity that comes from all of those perspectives in her discussion with us in April, and that was rewarding for everyone.

What themes did she focus on? What was her strongest message to the board? What was their reaction?

Interestingly, Danielle’s strongest message to the board was about the organization’s leveraging of scale, particularly around organ sharing and organ donation and transplantation programs.

For the board, her directness in singling out this theme among others was both validating and revealing. It validated an intuitive understanding we’ve had for some time that bridging traditional silos of health-care delivery is an important part of how we deliver value. At the same time, there was a new sense in our discussion with her that this factor truly does distinguish us from other health-care bodies in Canada.

Upon reflection, I think the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, of which I am board chair, is another example of successful scaling of health programs. CPAC’s role is to create a pan-Canadian cancer control strategy to optimize access to cancer care for Canadians with the same degree of equity we argue is the strength of the organ programs we manage. CPAC is all about cooperating and collaborating across jurisdictions and organizations to optimize effectiveness and efficiency of services across the cancer control continuum, from prevention to end-of-life care. While CPAC doesn’t manage integrated health systems such as the Canadian Transplant Registry as we do, it does convene, facilitate, develop leading practices, and then enable system change at various levels through its funding strategies.

If you could see progress on one of her big ideas, which would it be? Why?

Without question, it would be pharmacare. From my perspective, a national pharmacare program would support two fundamental outcomes that health systems are currently groaning under: it would achieve greater equity and access to essential medicines for patients across the country, and it would vastly lower health-system costs. Frankly, I was compelled, as a physician and an administrator, by her stories both in the book and at the board meeting, around pharmacare. It is unacceptable that in Canada’s public health system one in five Canadians will not fill their prescriptions because they can’t afford it.

What do you think of Ontario’s recently announced approach where pharmacare would be extended to children and young people up to age 25?

For me, this is an important first step, and one that I hope stimulates system-changing discussions on a national scale. Similarly, I would call out the work of the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance in reducing drug costs as another significant step forward. Canadian Blood Services also leverages bulk-buying power to achieve better pricing for specific categories of drugs derived from human plasma (called plasma protein products). All of these programs are important tools to drive better value and access for patients, but clearly much more needs to be done to achieve a national, integrated pharmacare program as described in Danielle’s book.

At one point in our discussion, Danielle and the board engaged around the idea that a pharmacare program does not mean advocating access to every available drug for every Canadian being treated. I think this is a critical point to make: pharmacare would be a game-changer on many levels, but difficult choices would still have to be made to balance public expectations with system capacity. By making those choices within the scope of a national pharmacare program, however — instead of in provincial and territorial silos — the country would gain the power to optimize access to the majority of drugs for the majority of Canadians, and that is indeed something worth striving for.

Part of Dr. Martin’s outreach in support of her book is extending this conversation to groups we may not view as typical academic or government consumers of health policy. Why do you think it is important for Canadians from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives to be aware of the issues she raises?

Perhaps it emanates from her practice as a front-line physician, but you are right, this book is clearly aimed at Canadians at large, not just policy-makers. Perhaps she feels real change will come from engaging with citizens at a much broader level as well as with those in policy and government.

I admire her hopeful message and her ability to build on — rather than tear down ― the health-care system Canadians so clearly cherish. I find her positive approach to calling for change to be a strong strategy. Advocacy that is hopeful and positive opens doors, just as being a good health-system partner opens doors.

What role, if any, can Canadian Blood Services play in moving any of these six big ideas forward?

This was actually Dr. Martin’s question to Canadian Blood Services’ board. And while we didn’t land on any one response in our meeting, I do feel that we are active participants in this discussion in a way other organizations may not be because we continue to build the national organ and tissue donation and transplantation programs she focused on in her book. In fact, in the future, we hope the heart community will directly benefit from the experience and learning of building the national Highly Sensitized Patient program for kidneys. Extending what we learned — the knowledge and technology from programs that work well — to help even more patients can easily effect real change. And we can certainly do more to communicate our experience and growing success in that sphere.

Our formulary of plasma protein products, which we bulk-purchase and deliver to hospitals across the country, is also an example of pan-Canadian scale at Canadian Blood Services working for the benefit of patients and health systems. This is another area where we can continue to share our experience, particularly around how the program delivers equity of access for Canadian patients and is a living example of one element of a broader pharmacare model.  

 

Further reading

About the Highly Sensitized Patient program:

What does being “highly sensitized” mean?

It means that the patients have a sensitized immune system. Immune system sensitization may be a result of blood transfusions, previous transplants or pregnancies, which is why many highly sensitized patients are women. As a result, patients who are highly sensitized are at higher risk of rejecting an organ transplant. This makes it very difficult to find a suitable donor match.

Why was the Highly Sensitized Patient program developed?

About 20 per cent of patients on provincial wait-lists are highly sensitized and need a kidney transplant. Yet, these same patients historically receive less than one per cent of available organs. With access to a limited number of donors in their home province, highly sensitized patients wait much longer for a kidney transplant and have a greater chance of becoming more ill or dying while they wait. By providing access to donors across the country, the Highly Sensitized Patient program increases the chances of finding kidney transplants for these hard-to-match patients. 

Read more


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration.

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services.

 

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