Transplantation

Raising awareness for living organ donation


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

This #givingtuesday — November 27, 2018 — organizations across the country are raising awareness about living donation. 

Did you know that more than 3,000 Canadians are on a waiting list for kidney transplantation?

When the kidneys are no longer able to remove waste products from the blood, either dialysis (artificial filtering of blood) or a transplant is required for survival. Dialysis alone can lead to health complications and severely impact quality of life.

A transplant is the preferred treatment for most patients suffering from kidney failure, yet there are not enough deceased kidney donors to help every patient in need. Living kidney donations offer patients a higher chance of receiving a transplant.

Kidney transplantation is life-saving and life-altering. Until we can clone or grow or print kidneys (who knows what the future holds), there will continue to be a need for kidney transplants. Transplantation through living donation has the potential to remove many people from dialysis and the transplant waitlists and alter the lives of not just the patients, but their families as well.”
– Kathy Yetzer, Associate Director, Living Donation, Canadian Blood Services.

Potential donors can help someone they know who needs a kidney transplant, or they can donate anonymously to help someone in need of a kidney on a waitlist somewhere in Canada. Patients with end stage kidney disease often wait many years for a kidney transplant from a deceased donor. Having a living kidney donor may decrease this wait time for the patient.

Learn more about living kidney donation.

 

What is Kidney Paired Donation?

The Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) program is a national program operated by Canadian Blood Services in collaboration with Canada’s living kidney donation and kidney transplant programs. Learn more about how KPD chains work:

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kidney donor domino effect 
Kidney Paired Donation Domino Effect

Transplantation is a kidney replacement therapy alternative to dialysis for patients who are eligible. It provides the best long-term outcome and a better quality of life than dialysis, and although recipients require life-long medications to prevent transplant rejection, patients no longer have diet and fluid restrictions and do not need to stay close to a dialysis centre at all times. But, there are not enough deceased donors in Canada to provide a kidney transplant for everyone on the waitlists.  Therefore, living donation is another incredibly important option for patients, especially since a kidney transplant from a living donor lasts longer and does better, on average, than a kidney from a deceased donor.

Even when a patient finds someone who is willing to donate a kidney to them, they are often not a blood group and tissue type match, so the transplant cannot occur. This is where Canadian Blood Services' Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) program can help some of these patients to find a medically suitable living kidney donor. These incompatible donors and transplant candidates enroll as incompatible pairs in the KPD program through the Canadian Transplant Registry  and we use a sophisticated matching algorithm to find situations where the donor in the pair can give to someone with whom they are compatible and another donor can give to the transplant candidate of the pair.

How do I become a live organ donor?

Start by contacting the kidney or live liver transplant centres in your province. You will need to undergo mandatory medical examinations and tests to determine if it is safe for you to become a live donor. These tests will also determine if you are an appropriate match for your intended recipient.

 

 

Help spread the word about living donation on social media by sharing the following message:

Did you know that more than 3,000 Canadians are on a waiting list for kidney transplantation. Find out how you can become someone’s hero through #livingdonation at blood.ca/organs-tissues @CanadasLifeLine #OrgansandTissuesForLife

Learn more about living donation on blood.ca/organs-tissues

 


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.

Unleash your inner writer – Enter our first-ever lay science writing competition


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Use plain language to tell the story of your research in blood, plasma, stem cells or organs & tissues.

Call for submissions – Deadline: January 18, 2019

Theme: Research that matters!

We’re excited to announce the launch of Canadian Blood Services’ first-ever Lay Science Writing Competition. We’ve connected with key partners in the science writing and research communities (Science Borealis and the Centre for Blood Research) to host a competition that will put your plain language writing skills to the test. 

Submissions are open to members of the Canadian Blood Services extended research trainee network including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and research associates directly or indirectly supported by Canadian Blood Services.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to showcase to the public your research in the domain of blood, plasma, stem cells, or organs and tissues and take an exciting new step in the development of your vital communication skills…. Not to mention the opportunity to win a prize and get published. 

This year’s Competition theme is “Research that matters!”. Your entry must describe the impact of your (your lab’s) research on the transfusion and transplantation system and/or on our society. The work must be original, in English, and not previously published. Length of submission must not exceed 800 words. 

Canadian Blood Services will convene a jury to review and rank the submissions. Submissions will be judged on their writing and storytelling merits.

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lay science writing competition poster 2018

The winning writer will receive a $300 prize and the two runners-up will each receive a $100 prize. Selected entries will be disseminated through the Canadian Blood Services, Science Borealis and the Centre for Blood Research online platforms and social media channels.

Good luck!!

Find out more about the competition and download the competition guidelines

If you have questions, contact the Centre for Innovation by email at centreforinnovation@blood.ca 

Presented in partnership with the Centre for Blood Research and Science Borealis. 


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.

 

Critical Care Canada Forum 2018


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The Critical Care Canada Forum (CCCF) takes place this week in Toronto. The annual event is attended by hundreds of health professionals working in critical care, primarily physicians.  A key event within the Forum is an unopposed plenary on brain death determination, to be held on Wednesday, November 7th.

I had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Sam Shemie, Canadian Blood Services’ medical advisor for deceased donation, about this important plenary session, as well as the World Brain Death Project, and the launch of a new professional education resource on neurological determination of death.

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CCCF 2018

Why is brain death the focus of this CCCF plenary session and why is it an important subject for the critical care community right now?

A bit of context… Before the 1960s, and the introduction of technical advances like artificial breathing machines, diagnosis of death was clear. Back then, if the brain stopped functioning, the body would stop receiving the signal to breathe and eventually the heart would stop.  The ability to replace breathing with a machine and prevent cardiac arrest was a great advance in the effort to save lives. For the brain injured patient, replacing breathing allowed doctors to try to understand the brain injury and to potentially reverse or improve the cause of that brain injury.

This advance also led to a certain type of patient that was never seen before: a patient with a brain injury who, despite all effort, had deteriorated to a state of complete and irreversible loss of all function of the brain.

What we now call brain death is death determined by brain-based criteria. These criteria are the loss of capacity for consciousness, the absence of brain stem reflexes, and the absence of the ability to breathe. (Severe brain injury to neurological determination of death: Canadian forum recommendations. CMAJ 2006 Mar 14)

The term “absence of capacity for consciousness” is a bit difficult for people to understand. What it means is that all functions of the brain have completely stopped and will never resume. Thinking, planning, moving, feeling, seeing, hearing, smelling — no ability to interact with environment, etc. There is no brain function. However, if one artificially replaces breathing, the organs of the body will continue to function.

Brain death is accepted medical practice in most countries of the world, including Canada,  yet recent legal cases in the US and now in Canada where families have challenged the diagnosis of Brain Death on religious grounds.  This ongoing legal challenge to the acceptance of Brain Death as death is concerning to the Critical Care community.  Throughout the legal challenge process, the body of the individual who has been declared brain dead continues to be supported by machines. However, this is the complete cessation of all brain function and there is no returning from the state.

Of course, the topic of death determination is of concern to the Critical Care community. These professionals are the ones who are most likely to work with patients with devastating brain injury who can deteriorate to brain death. To better understand the issues surrounding medical and legal determination of death, the Critical Care Canada Forum (CCCF) is hosting an unopposed plenary session on Nov. 7th to allow for medical, legal and ethical discussion of brain death.

The plenary session is unopposed — which means no other sessions will take place at the same time so all delegates can attend. It will involve 90 minutes of expert presentations from the medical, legal, ethical and international perspectives, followed by a 30-minute Q&A period.

Plenary Session: Threats to the Concept of Brain Death

  • B Kavanagh Case Presentation
  • A Joffe – Medical: Death is Not Brain-Based
  • S Shemie – Medical: Death is Brain-Based
  • H Scher  Legal Uncertainty
  • D Jarvis  Legal Coherence
  • R Sibbald  Ethical Reflections
  • D Greer International Perspectives on Threats to Brain Death
  • Panel Discussion and Audience Questions

Read more in the CCCF program

What is the World Brain Death Project?

Brain death is accepted medical practice in most countries, though there may be variations in practice and understanding. The World Brain Death Project is an international collaboration of medical experts, professional societies and organizations that manage patients with devastating brain injuries leading to brain death.  These professionals include world societies of Intensive Care (adult and pediatric), Neurocritical care, Neurology and Neurosurgery.  This collaboration aims to develop an international minimum standard of practice to enhance the current medical and legal standing for the brain-based determination of  death or as it is also called, death by neurological criteria. The goal is the harmonization of international practices to address the inconsistencies among practice in countries and between countries and identify gaps in knowledge that can be addressed by research.

The project is led by representatives from Canadian Blood Services including myself and Sylvia Torrance along with leading experts in neurocritical care including Gene Sung from UCLA ,Ariane Lewis (New York Univeristy) and David Greer )Boston Univeristy).

You are also involved in the development of a new professional resource related to Neurological Determination of Death (NDD), can you tell me more about that?

Canadian Blood Services’ work in organ and tissue donation and transplantation includes supporting the development of leading practice and increasing opportunities for professional development and education. Historically, there has been no national curriculum to train specialists in organ donation. This project is changing that.

Ken Lotherington (Canadian Blood Services) and Jennifer Hancock (Dalhousie University) along with Pierre Cardinal and Aimee Sarti (The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute) are developing an online e-learning platform for various aspects of deceased organ donation. This ongoing, multi-year initiative will release two new national curriculum modules this year. The first module NDD/brain death is intended to be used as part of the required training for critical care residents and fellows. The teaching of NDD in Canada will be harmonized with existing leading practice and be available as a learning and teaching tool to train people -- enhancing the rigour of the determination of death to make sure there are no diagnostic errors is key.

Module 1: Canadian Clinical Guide to Organ Donation to launch

At CCCF 2018 members of our deceased donation team will be on hand to launch and demo the first module of the Canadian Clinical Guide to Organ Donation – an online e-learning curriculum that is Royal College accredited. Professionals will be able to register for the first module “Neurological Determination of Death”.

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Canadian Clinical Guide to Organ Donation

Module 1 learning objectives:
  • Discuss normal CNS pathology and the pathophysiology leading to neurological death.
  • Describe physician standards required for declaration of neurological death.
  • Describe how to perform declaration of neurological death.
  • Discuss confounding factors that preclude a clinical diagnosis of neurological death.
  • Discuss the different acceptable ancillary tests for neurological determination of death.
  • Explain some common confusing exam findings in a patient who has been pronounced neurologically dead (spinal reflexes, ventilator auto-triggering, etc).

If you’re attending CCCF 2018, visit Canadian Blood Services’ booth to learn more and to register for this new professional education resource. 

For more professional education resources visit blood.ca/profedu

 


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.

 

Highlights from the Transplant Summit 2018


Friday, November 02, 2018

Health professionals, patients, and policy makers gathered in Ottawa to discuss the future of transplantation in Canada at the Canadian Transplant Summit 2018 — October 16-20, 2018.

The Canadian Society of Transplantation, Canadian Blood Services, the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (formerly CNTRP) and Canadian Bone Marrow Transplant Group worked together to develop a robust and comprehensive scientific program.  Over the course of five jam-packed days the community shared knowledge, learned from one another and talked all sides of system improvement. The Summit opened with a welcome from of all four hosting partners the Opening Plenary.

An exciting aspect of the Transplant Summit was the inclusion of patient partners in the scientific program. The perspectives of donors, patients and their families is so important in conversations about improving the system, outcomes and experiences.

 

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Heather Badenoch

The Opening Plenary was a highlight and an eye-opener. Titled: “Arrested Development in Canadian HealthCare: Against the Odds Donation and Transplantation has created systemic changes that are working. Removing systemic obstacles going forward is essential,” the session was moderated by Sean Delaney, associate director, listing and allocation, Canadian Blood Services. The keynote speakers included the Globe and Mail’s health columnist, André Picard and Jennifer Woolfsmith, the mother of an organ donor.

 
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Sandra Holdsworth - twitter

André Picard shared his in-depth knowledge of the health system in his talk titled “Reforming medicare: Obstacles and Opportunities” and we had the great privilege of hearing from Jennifer Woolfsmith. Jennifer brought the donor family perspective to light. Six-and-a-half years ago Jennifer’s 22-month-old daughter Mackenzy suffered a catastrophic injury and became an organ donor.

Since then, Jennifer has continued to share her story to help reframe the discussion around organ donation, to honour Mackenzy’s life and that maternal bond that never goes away, and to ensure families know that organ donation is an option. She challenged those in health care not to be afraid to approach and to ask a family about donation. Explaining that while it doesn’t ease the grief of losing a child, it provides hope.

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Jennifer Woolfsmith (2016)

In November 2017, the Canadian Guidelines for Controlled Pediatric Donation after Circulatory Determination of Death (pDCD) were published. Jennifer Woolfsmith brought the patient family perspective to the table by reviewing these leading practice guidelines, providing valuable insight from a parents’ point of view.

“Knowing my daughter continues to impact the world through donation brings me so much comfort. So, it truly was my honour to contribute by reviewing these guidelines with the hope of giving other parents this option to bring purpose and meaning to the experience of losing their child.”

Dr. Sam Shemie, Medical Director, moderated a session titled deceased donation: safely expanding the donor pool, and provided an update on an expert forum held earlier in the week on establishing a medical, ethical and legal framework for heart donation after circulatory death. The session included an international perspective from Dr. Gavin Pettigrew, University of Cambridge and a personal story of the patient perspective shared by Thomas Shing who was one of the first recipients of a heart through DCD donation in the United Kingdom.

 

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Dr. Shemie sharing the future perspectives of DCD heart transplantation in Canada

 

On top of many informative sessions, the Summit created opportunities for face-to-face problem solving. For instance, Canadian Blood Services brought together a meeting of the kidney surgical subcommittee to work on issues and barriers for living donation. In addition:

  • our Organ Listing and Allocation Team presented and participated in four different annual meetings of the individual organ professional societies (Lung, Liver, Kidney, and HLA), which included discussions about future workplan priorities in organ sharing, optimizing organ allocation, and the future for performance measurement and data in Canada. 
  • the Living Donation team hosted a meeting of kidney surgeons in the morning, and then supported our Dr. Michel Paquet, our medical advisor for renal transplant with talking to the very large CST Kidney Working Group about the future of the Kidney Paired Donation Program and emerging opportunities in allocation.
  • Sean Delaney also co-moderated a plenary session on opportunities for optimizing living donation in Canada, with two key speakers who are Canadian leaders in this topic (Dr. Amit Garg of London, ON and Dr. David Landsberg of Vancouver, BC).
  • Kathy Yetzer, associate director, living donation and transplantation, provided an update on Canadian Blood Services’ overall progress in Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation to a Saturday plenary, which included walking the participants through Canadian Blood Services' renewed brand,  as well as announcing our nearly finalized work on the establishment of a deceased donation training module that for critical care residents. 

All in all, the Summit was a truly collaborative and enlightening week with many great steps forward in improving transplantation in Canada.  The tireless work of the planning committee with representatives from all four partner hosting partners must be commended.

Visit the Canadian Society of Transplantation to  learn more about the 2018 Summit and planning for 2019.

 

Next up... the Canadian Critical Care Forum, November 6-9 in Toronto.


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.

 

Funding opportunities currently open


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Canadian Blood Services' Centre for Innovation currently has four competitive funding competitions open for applications. All close on November 30, 2018. Read on to see if you or any of your colleagues or students are eligible for these exciting opportunities!

Canadian Blood Services' Graduate Fellowship Program

The Graduate Fellowship Program provides stipend support for young investigators who want to initiate or continue training in the field of blood transfusion and transplantation science. The maximum value of each fellowship is $25,000 per annum, with an additional travel allowance of $1,000 per year. Students may be supported for up to four years. Graduate students undertaking full-time research training in a Canadian institution are eligible to apply.

Learn more about the Canadian Blood Services Graduate Fellowship Program:
Graduate Fellowship Program: Fostering the future of transfusion science research

BloodTechNet Award Program

BloodTechNet seeks to support your bright idea! Funding is available for projects that deliver innovative educational tools and resources to support the development of skills, knowledge and expertise of health professionals in the transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation communities in Canada. Applicants must be a health professional belonging to the transfusion, cellular therapy and/or transplantation communities in Canada.

Learn more about current and previously funded projects through this Program:

James Kreppner Award

This award supports research into the legal and regulatory aspects of donation, collection, storage, and use of blood, blood products, and hematopoietic stem cells; and organ and tissue donation and transplantation. The award honours James Kreppner, a lawyer and patients’ rights advocate, who was committed to blood safety and contributed greatly to Canada’s blood system. Applicants must be a Canadian legal researcher affiliated with a Canadian academic program as a faculty member.

Learn more about previous recipients:

Kenneth J. Fyke Award

This award supports health services and policy research to promote the development of evidence-based Canadian practices and policies in blood transfusion, blood stem cell transplantation, and organ and tissue transplantation for the benefit of Canadian patients. This award honours Kenneth J Fyke, one of Canada’s healthcare leaders and a world authority on healthcare management. Applicants must be Canadian researchers affiliated with a Canadian academic program related to health services or health policy or transfusion medicine, stem cell transplantation, or organ and tissue donation and transplantation medicine.

Learn more about previous recipients: A Q & A with Dr. David Allan


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.

 

Meet the Director: Dr. Chantale Pambrun


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Get to know Dr. Chantale Pambrun, Director, Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation

Previously led by Judie Leach Bennett, who  joined the executive management team as Vice-President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Dr. Chantale Pambrun took over as Director of the Centre for Innovation in December 2017. She was formerly associate director, donor and clinical services and, prior to joining us at Canadian Blood Services, she was the Medical Director of Hematopathology at a tertiary health care centre for women and children in Halifax, NS.

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Dr. Chantale Pambrun

To get to know Dr. Pambrun better, we asked her a few questions…

Tell us a little about yourself… Who are you? Where are you from?

Canada has always been my home. My husband, two children and I have lived in many cities from coast to coast. Our nomad-like existence has made us adaptable and open to new experiences. Much of what drives me in my life and in my career is related to being a positive role model to my children. Each and every day, I strive to contribute to the best of my ability, so that I may inspire them to do the same.

How long have you been with Canadian Blood Services?

I first started with Canadian Blood Services in 2016 as a medical consultant working with Dr. Mindy Goldman in Donor and Clinical Services, which later expanded into an associate medical director role with responsibilities in donor eligibility and the national immunohematology reference laboratory. Donor health is an issue I consider very important in our work and I continue to support work in this area.

Read more: Dr. Pambrun on donor health

 

Tell us about your role with the Centre for Innovation…

In my role as Director of the Centre for Innovation, I work with a team of approximately 80 individuals who each hold a unique set of skills. Collectively the group helps Canadian Blood Services prepare for the future of transfusion and transplantation medicine, all for the benefit of donors and patients. Broadly the group works on discovery research related, applied development, knowledge mobilization and education, as well as health policy and leading practice.

As director, I’m responsible for making sure the team has what they need to succeed. I am very keen on fostering collaboration within our group, across the organization and beyond to the broader science and healthcare community.

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discovery research on display during ISBT 2018

 

Before working at Canadian Blood Services, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had? 

Once upon a time, I worked at the Chrysler minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario. I spent all day installing van doors – the same tedious task, day after day. That experience taught me that I was not built for an assembly line job. I prefer the challenge of a day that has at least a few surprises and puzzles to solve.

What drew you to Canadian Blood Services originally? 

I was drawn to the organization because it provided an opportunity to do meaningful work in a field with many diverse stakeholders. I knew early on that I wouldn’t run out of things to do and that no day would ever be dull…

What do you like most about your job?

The people, the passion, and the cause. I love the diversity of what the Centre for Innovation does and what the group is able to achieve when we work together.

What do you find most exciting about your work?

I enjoy uncovering the untapped opportunities; seeing the team flourish in their day-to-day work; and challenging the status quo.

Read more: Searching for safer red blood cell bags for pediatric patients

What/who inspires you?

I am inspired by people who do what’s right, who are authentic, who are passionate and who engage those around them. 

When you’re not at work, where could we find you?

I most enjoy relaxing with my family, doing the simple things and enjoying life.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us... 

I’m a cowgirl at heart. I’ve always loved the great outdoors and love riding horses. After medical school I went on a cattle drive with my father in Montana… it was a long-time dream of ours. The simplicity of this life and the big open spaces is something I long for.

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Dr. Chantale Pambrun - leisure

Three words that best describe you:

Enthusiastic, pragmatic, and optimistic. I always try to come to any table with an open mind and try to put a positive spin on whatever the challenge…

You’re happiest when? 

When I am true to myself.

Learn more about Canadian Blood Services' Centre for Innovation and ongoing research and education initiatives


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.

 

Do you suffer from FOMO?


Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Do you suffer from FOMO? Fear of missing out! Fear no more, the event page on Canadian Blood Services' professional education website has you covered!

This is your one-stop shop to learn more about local, national and international education events covering blood, plasma and transfusion, organ and tissue donation and transplantation, as well as hematopoietic stem cells. Here you’ll find a searchable and easy-to-view calendar of conferences, lectures, courses and more.

Check it out! Be THAT person – the one who never misses an abstract deadline or early bird registration rate!

And - to event planners and those in the know - please let us know if we are the ones missing out! If you would like YOUR event displayed on our calendar, please contact us

 

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Left to right: Drs. William Sheffield, Jeff Keirnan, and Mia Golder. Photo credit: CSTM 2017 photo gallery.
CSTM annual meeting

 

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poster session ISBT
ISBT 2018 poster session

 

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CBR event
Centre for Blood Research event (photo courtesy of CBR)

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.

 

Meet the Researcher: Dr. Jelena Holovati


Tuesday, September 04, 2018

This week, we connected with Dr. Jelena Holovati about her work as a Canadian Blood Services adjunct scientist and her role as laboratory director of the Edmonton Stem Cell Manufacturing Program.

Where do you work and what is your role?

I’m an associate professor in the department of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. I also hold Canadian Blood Services positions as a laboratory director for the Edmonton Stem Cell Manufacturing Program and as an adjunct scientist. By training, I'm a lab technologist – this background has served me really well in my current roles. 

How long have you been with Canadian Blood Services?

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Since my undergraduate years at the University of Alberta! I was first introduced to Canadian Blood Services  in 2002, as a lab technology student working on a validation project in component production. This experience led me to the graduate program, during which I was supervised by two Canadian Blood Services’ scientists, Drs. McGann and Acker. My PhD thesis focused on innovative ways to cryopreserve red blood cells and I am grateful to have been supported by a Canadian Blood Services graduate fellowship award.

After I completed my PhD, I accepted a faculty position at the University of Alberta and started focusing my academic and professional interests in the fields of transfusion and transplantation medicine. I was so happy to be invited to join Canadian Blood Services as an adjunct scientist. Now I supervise graduate students working on Canadian Blood Services’ funded projects — so in a way I feel I have come full circle!

“Seeing all the wonderful things undergraduate and graduate students end up doing after I’ve had the privilege of mentoring and supporting them, even for a short while, makes me feel like I’m contributing to the development of tomorrow’s laboratory medicine leaders and visionaries.”

Tell us about your areas of research…

My primary research focuses on investigating innovative approaches to improve the red blood cell membrane during blood bank storage. The ultimate goal is to further improve the safety and quality of red blood cells for transfusion. For example, we are currently studying how to use liposomes — small membrane-bound vesicles — to mitigate red blood cell membrane damage that occurs during storage, and investigating the effects of a rejuvenating solution on the quality of stored red blood cells.

As laboratory director of the Edmonton Stem Cell Manufacturing Program, I am involved in multiple development, validation, and quality improvement projects in the hematopoietic stem cell laboratory. For example, in March 2017, we were the first lab in Canada to implement an automated process for plasma reduction during processing of hematopoietic stem cells, a change which improved stem cell product quality and safety for the patient.

What are you working on now?

Apart from my research work, during the university semester, I’m quite busy with teaching, marking midterms and sitting on candidacy exams. As an educator in the division of the medical laboratory science at the University of Alberta, I am involved in education and training of medical laboratory science and medical undergraduate students, residents, as well as MSc and PhD students in the graduate laboratory medicine program.

Learn more about Dr. Holovati’s recent research to improve the usefulness of a laboratory assay that can help find suitable blood donors for hard-to-match patients here.

Why did you get into science?

I was always drawn to health sciences, and it was actually a course in clinical microbiology that led me to study medical laboratory technology, which was such a perfect fit for me! I love the technical and analytical aspects of the lab, but knowing that there is a direct contribution to patient care makes it even more rewarding. 

What inspires you?

My students inspire me. Continuously rediscovering medical laboratory science through their eyes is just delightful! Also, seeing all the wonderful things these undergraduate and graduate students end up doing after I’ve had the privilege of mentoring and supporting them for, even for a short while, makes me feel like I’m contributing to the development of tomorrow’s laboratory medicine leaders and visionaries.

When you’re not in the lab, where could we find you?

In a car, driving my two girls around to numerous after-school activities — it often feels like I have a part time job as their private Uber driver. Also, I recently discovered hot yoga and I’m really enjoying this practice. 

 

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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.

Unveiling the 2018 BloodTechNet awardees


Wednesday, August 08, 2018

BloodTechNet is a competitive funding program that supports projects aimed at delivering innovative educational resources for healthcare professionals in the transfusion, cellular therapy, and transplantation communities.  

Again this year, we were impressed by the quality of the applications received for the BloodTechNet competition and we look forward to seeing the educational resources that the four new projects will produce in about a year. To share our excitement, here’s a taste of what’s to come! 

Enhancing knowledge about blood groups and antibodies to prevent transfusion reactions 

The team will develop an internet-based platform to deliver curriculum about blood groups and antibodies for Canadian doctors and blood bank technologists. Dr. Matthew Yan, hematologist and transfusion medicine specialist affiliated with Canadian Blood Services, will lead this project with Drs Jacob Pendergrast and Gordon Tait (both of UHN in Toronto) as co-investigators. Read more about the project

Applying educational tools of knowledge translation to reduce the inappropriate use of plasma 

The team will follow a set of knowledge translation methodologies to bring existing guideline information to opinion leaders at large academic hospitals in Toronto, London, Hamilton and Ottawa and to co-develop solutions to change practice. Dr. Ziad Solh, transfusion medicine specialist affiliated with Western University, will lead this project and engage multiple collaborators from across the province of Ontario. Read more about the project

Transport and storage of blood products 

The team will create educational resources for clinical, laboratory and allied staff on the transport and storage of blood products. Clare O’Reilly, transfusion safety nurse at the BC Children's and Women's Health Centres will lead this project with multiple co-investigators from the province of British Columbia. Read more about the current project

We caught-up with Clare at the 2018 ISBT Congress in Toronto where she told us about the resources her team developed for nurses with her 2014 BloodTechNet award. 

 

Stem cell transplantation multimedia toolkit 

This team will expand the Stem Cell Club’s multimedia library by developing tools to support educating healthcare professional students about stem cell donation. The new online tools will include infographics, a whiteboard video and a repository of stories from patients, donors, recruiters, and transplant physicians and staff. Dr. Warren Fingrut, hematologist affiliated with the University of Toronto and founder of Stem Cell Club, will lead this project with collaborators from across Canada, including Canadian Blood Services. Read more about the project

It is inspiring to see the ideas generated by our healthcare and education partners and a privilege to help bringing them to life with the BloodTechNet funding. 

Not familiar yet with projects previously supported by BloodTechNet? 

Visit our Professional Education website to access educational resources developed for the community since 2011. 

Apply for BloodTechNet funding to bring your ideas to life. 

Through the BloodTechNet competition, Canadian Blood Services funds innovative projects aimed at delivering educational tools and resources that support the development of skills, knowledge, and expertise of health professionals in the transfusion, cellular therapy, and transplantation communities in Canada. 

Who can apply to BloodTechNet?  

Applicants must be health professionals (medical lab technologists, nurses and physicians) belonging to the transfusion, cellular therapy and/or transplantation communities in Canada. 

  • Projects must have educational goals that develop professional skills, knowledge and expertise. 

  • Projects must have a clear plan with defined goals and deliverables that will be completed within the one-year term of the award. 

  • Priority will be given to projects that are collaborative in nature and include team members from different health care professions, departments, organizations and/or jurisdictions. 

The application deadline for the 2019 competition is set for November 30, 2018. The 2019 competition guidelines and application form will be available shortly at blood.ca 

Related 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.

Meet the Researcher: Dr. Jason Acker


Thursday, June 07, 2018

For this instalment of “Meet the researcher”, we met with Dr. Jason Acker, a senior research scientist at Canadian Blood Services who specializes in the manufacturing and storage of blood components.  

“What gets me up in the morning is the knowledge that through the work of my team and my collaborators, we are able to have a direct impact on the lives of patients. The technical and scientific support we provide helps the organization make critical decisions about the quality of the products that we are collecting, manufacturing and distributing.” 

~ Dr. Jason Acker, Research Scientist, Canadian Blood Services

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How long have you been with Canadian Blood Services?

As an employee, I’ve been with Canadian Blood Services for more than 15 years. I joined as an associate scientist in 2002. Before that, I worked in the Edmonton Blood Centre as an undergraduate and graduate student for almost 10 years, starting in 1992. This predates the creation of Canadian Blood Services, so I can say that I’ve been associated with the organization for more than 25 years!

What’s your role?

I am a senior research scientist with Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation and a professor in the department of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. My role is multifaceted in that I have research, development, teaching and administrative responsibilities both at Canadian Blood Services and at the University of Alberta. 

Note: Dr. Acker is the recipient of a 2018-19 Killam Professorship. We caught up with him at the International Society of Blood Transfusion congress held in Toronto in early June to ask him about this honour.

 

Where is your lab?

My research laboratory is located on the third floor of Canadian Blood Services’ Edmonton Centre.

Tell us about your area(s) of research.

My research focuses on three distinct areas:

  1. Studying how cells and tissues respond when they are stored outside the body. Our general approach involves examining the natural world to learn how plants and animals survive extreme environmental stress and then assessing the application of these adaptations for clinical medicine. This has enabled us to improve methods for storing cells and tissues for transfusion and transplantation.
  2. Understanding the many factors that influence the safety and quality of blood products in Canada. Donated blood is processed into blood components (red blood cells, platelets, plasma and plasma products) that are tested and stored before being transfused. Safety and quality may be influenced by donor factors (e.g. sex or age of the donor), how the blood is processed into components, storage times before transfusion, and ultimately how the blood products are used in the hospital. We are working to evaluate and understand these influences.
  3. Developing new diagnostic technologies. For the first 10 years of my research career at Canadian Blood Services, we were involved in developing new ways to identify blood groups and test for infectious diseases. We used the same process that is used to manufacture computer chips (microfabrication), to build “lab on a chip” microfluidics devices with miniaturized channels, pumps, valves, and detectors, which can be used to manipulate samples for testing. We initially used this technology for malaria testing of blood donors and for testing maternal blood for fetal DNA to aid in diagnosing hemolytic disease of the newborn. More recently, our “lab on a chip” technology has been expanded to additional applications including environmental monitoring, human and veterinary medicine, and food safety.

 

What are you working on now?

We are currently working with collaborators to understand how donor factors (age, sex, ethnicity, frequency of donation) and changes to donor screening affect the quality of red blood cell products. Our focus has been on understanding the biological effects that donor-associated changes have on blood components to determine if changes to donor screening, blood component manufacturing or storage can be used to enhance the safety and quality of our blood products. We are contributing to national studies linking data about donors, products and recipient outcomes. This information can inform clinical studies to better understand transfusion and blood product utilization. In addition, we are working with international partners to develop innovative tools to examine the effects of donor factors on the quality of blood cells. 

Read more about the effects of donor factors on transfusion outcome:

A major project within our group has been the development and evaluation of new synthetic compounds that can be used to control how and where ice formation occurs in cell and tissue systems that are frozen. We are using these nature-inspired compounds to help improve the processing efficiency, stability and post-thaw quality of red blood cells, platelets, stem cells and other cell and tissue therapies. We plan to expand this work to look at using these compounds to extend the storage time of complex tissues and organs.

In addition to our discovery research activities, we support the medical officers and our supply chain colleagues on various internal development projects. Currently, we are evaluating a new genotyping test that would allow us to determine a baby’s blood group from DNA present in a mother’s blood sample. This may change how prenatal testing is performed.

We are also working to optimize our practices to reduce transfusion-associated graft-versus-host disease (TA-GVHD), a rare but dangerous transfusion complication in which white blood cells from the transfused blood product begin to attack the recipient’s tissues. White blood cells are removed from blood components during manufacturing, but a small number may remain in the transfused blood product. These are normally destroyed by the recipient’s immune system, but patients who are immune-compromised are at risk of developing TA-GVHD. Currently, these patients are transfused with red blood cells that have been irradiated to inactivate white blood cells. We are examining whether irradiation is still needed after implementing red blood cell processing methods that greatly reduce the number of white blood cells in the transfused unit.

Why did you get into science?                          

Right from my early years, I have always been fascinated with puzzles. Whether they are mechanical puzzles, logical puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, or scientific/technical puzzles, I am drawn to try and understand how to solve them. This sparked my desire not only to solve tough technical problems, but also to understand the scientific basis for the solution so that I could make solving the next puzzle easier. I was naturally attracted to science as it provided the tools (the scientific method) and the knowledge that is often necessary to be able to answer the hard questions and solve the tough problems!

What inspires you?

What gets me up in the morning is the knowledge that through the work of my team and my collaborators, we are able to have a direct impact on the lives of patients. The technical and scientific support we provide helps the organization make critical decisions about the quality of the products that we are collecting, manufacturing and distributing. Our basic discovery work can translate into new processes, technologies or commercial products. Unlike an artist whose impact may not be realized until late in life or even well after death, as a research scientist with Canadian Blood Services we can look back at our accomplishments every year and see how we have had the opportunity to have an impact on the lives of Canadians.

I also gain great inspiration from working with really smart, engaged and motivated students and colleagues.  There is nothing more infectious than the energy that comes from interacting with a diverse team of people with broad experiences and knowledge that are collectively working together to solve hard problems.

What do you find most exciting about your work?

The unknown. As the old saying goes, “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” To use the puzzle analogy, often we find ourselves with a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle and have no idea what the final picture should look like. This can be both exciting, as you put together the pieces and slowly develop a better idea of what the truth looks like, and terrifying, because there is no guarantee that you will be able to put all the pieces together. Sometimes we have to abandon the puzzle and come back to it after we learn more about how some of the pieces might fit together. Often we are surprised by what we learn in the process. But the feeling you get from putting two pieces of the puzzle together… that is really exciting. 

What work are you most proud of?

Through our research we have been able to develop better methods to evaluate the impact that donor factors, manufacturing and storage have on the quality of blood products and patient outcomes. This has informed policies and practices around the appropriate use of blood products for specific patient groups in Canada and around the world, and has led to the development of specialized products for use in transfusion and transplantation medicine. I am very proud to have the opportunity to work with an outstanding team of trainees, scientific and medical colleagues, industry partners and Canadian Blood Services staff (supply chain, IT and quality control) on projects to support innovative changes in transfusion medicine.

Read more about manufacturing methods that affect quality:

ResearchUnit: Data mining: Digging for deeper understanding of blood components and transfusion outcomes

RED blog post: How it’s made matters: Manufacturing method linked to cellular damage in red blood cells

When you’re not in the lab where could we find you?

Just look up…as a pilot and chief flying instructor at my local soaring club, I spend my weekends either teaching people how to fly gliders or heading out on my own across the Alberta prairies for a “dance amongst the clouds”. There is no greater joy than silently soaring under a puffy cumulus cloud with a hawk off your wing tip! I’ve been flying airplanes and teaching people to fly for 30 years and this year I had the privilege of seeing my 16-year-old daughter fly solo for the first time.

 

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