Jenny Ryan

Jenny is the Science Communications Specialist at Canadian Blood Services working out of head office in Ottawa. She works closely with the Medical Affairs and Innovation division to interpret and showcase new research and discovery in transfusion and transplantation science. 

Organ and tissue donation by those who choose medical assistance in dying: new guidance for professionals


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

new publication in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) aims to help health care teams navigate clinical issues surrounding organ and tissue donation by patients who choose to donate after medical assistance in dying (MAID) or withdrawal of life-sustaining measures. 

 

In collaboration with the Canadian Critical Care Society, the Canadian Society of Transplantation, and the Canadian Association of Critical Care Nurses, Canadian Blood Services brought together medical, legal and ethics experts to inform this work, as well as patient partners who brought unique perspectives and thoughtful insight. 

The new publication, Organ and Tissue Donation for Medical Assistance in Dying and Other Conscious Competent Patients: Expert Guidance for Policy, makes key recommendations, including:  

  • Protection for patients – the decision to have MAID or withdrawal of life-sustaining measures must occur before any discussion of organ donation. 
  • Choice – medically suitable conscious competent patients who provide first-person consent to end-of-life procedures should be given the opportunity to donate organs and tissues. 
  • Consent – the patient must be able to provide first-person consent and be able to withdraw consent for MAID or donation at any time. 
  • Donor testing – physicians, transplant teams and other staff should try to minimize the impact and disruption of donating (such as testing) for the patient. 
  • Determination of death – the dead donor must be respected, meaning vital organs can only be removed from deceased donors after determination of death according to accepted criteria. 
  • Conscientious objection – health-care professionals may choose not to participate in MAID or withdrawal of life-sustaining measures, but they should work to support the patient’s wishes to donate.

 

For access to professional education resources related to leading practices and clinical guidelines visit Canadian Blood Services' professional education website

This report and the published manuscript have been endorsed by the Canadian Critical Care Society, the Canadian Society of Transplantation, and the Canadian Association of Critical Care Nurses.

 

Learn more:  CMAJ podcasts — Organ Donation After MAID 

In this interview, Dr. James Downar (co-author of policy guidance) and Dr. Jennifer Hancock (an intensive care physician in Halifax) take listeners through considerations of having a patient who requests medical assistance in dying (MAiD) or withdrawal of life-sustaining measures (WLSM) and who also requests to have his or her organs donated.

https://soundcloud.com/cmajpodcasts/181648-guide

 


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.

Recordings from the CCCF 2018 Deceased Donation Scientific Symposium now available online


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Canadian Blood Services, Trillium Gift of Life Network and the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program partnered to host the Deceased Organ Donation Symposium that took place at the Critical Care Canada Forum (CCCF) on November 7 – 8, 2018.

The CCCF is a national forum attended by hundreds of health care professionals, primarily physicians, working in critical care. The Deceased Organ Donation Symposium is an opportunity for these health care professionals to engage in discussions about relevant and emerging topics in deceased donation.

A key event at the symposium was the unopposed plenary on brain death. Recent legal cases that challenge the acceptance of brain death as death are concerning to the critical care community. To better understand the issues surrounding brain death, experts presented medical, legal, ethical and international perspectives. 

The two-day symposium program reviewed the changing demographics of deceased organ donors; provided updates on evolving donation science, clinical leading practices, and advancements in perfusion technology; and highlighted new research on physician attitudes toward organ donation as well as donor family experiences along the donation pathway. 

Having generated much esteem and excitement, the brain death plenary and symposium sessions were recorded to ensure those who were unable to attend have the opportunity to access and share this important information. Videos from this session are now available on Canadian Blood Services' professional education website. 

Canadian Critical Care Forum (CCCF) – Deceased Donation Scientific Symposium 2018 - Videos

Videos from this session were recorded in partnership with Trillium Gift of Life Network and the Canadian National Transplant Research Program at The Canadian Critical Care Forum between November 6 to 9, 2018. 

View videos here


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.

Expert guidance seeks to improve identification of potential organ donors


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Publication supports the critical care community in donor identification and referral allowing more potential organ donors to save more lives, and more donor families to be enabled to fulfill their loved one’s wishes

Just published in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia: Potential organ donor identification and system accountability: expert guidance from a Canadian consensus conference

A Q&A with lead author Dr. Samara Zavalkoff

Deceased donation rates in Canada lag behind leading countries. A key area of focus to improve the system for all Canadians is to ensure health care professionals are able to identify and refer potential organ donors. If they are not equipped to identify and refer potential organ donors to organ donation organizations (ODOs) in a timely manner, patients on transplant waiting lists are left waiting and the wishes of potential donors and their families remain unfulfilled.

A Potential Organ Donor Identification and System Accountability (PODISA) Workshop was held September 20-21, 2016 in Ottawa. A collaboration between Canadian Blood Services and the Canadian Donation and Transplant Research Program (CDTRP), this workshop engaged representatives from critical care, neurocritical care, emergency medicine, donation, transplantation, research, health care administration, family partners, and patient safety and quality organizations. The results have now been published in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia.

To better understand the importance of donor identification and referral, we spent some time with lead author Dr. Samara Zavalkoff a pediatric intensivist at Montreal Children’s Hospital. 

 

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Dr. Samara Zavalkoff

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Samara Zavalkoff and I am a pediatric intensive care physician at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. I look after children of all ages who are critically ill.  I am an expert in patient safety and quality improvement. I have a keen interest in organ donation.

 

Can you tell us a bit about donor identification and referral?

Donor identification and referral is the process of recognizing when a patient who is gravely ill, dying or brain dead, has the potential to become a deceased organ donor and should be referred to an organ donation organization for follow up.

What are the issues that prevent potential donors from being identified as potential donors and referred to organ donation professionals?

Many reasons prevent identification and referral. They include:

  • lack of proper education for health care professionals about how and when to identify potential donors,
  • discomfort of healthcare professionals in discussing organ donation with family members,
  • preconceived notions about what a family may want in terms of donation,
  • limited access to resources to support identification and referral,
  • little or no consequence when a potential organ donor is missed because many provinces do not have legislation that requires doctors to refer potential donors,
  • lack of understanding about the impact a potential organ donor could have on a transplant candidate waiting for a life-saving organ, and
  • circumstances whereby health care professionals become overburdened with other tasks and concerns when a patient reaches end-of-life.

Why is donor identification and referral so important?

Donor identification and referral is the first and most essential step in the deceased donation process. If a potential donor is not identified and referred, organ donation cannot happen. Failing to identify and refer a potential donor can have catastrophic consequences for transplant candidates awaiting an organ. A patient on the transplant list may die if a suitable donor is not found in time. Circumstances when a doctor does not identify and refer a potential organ donor, should be considered critical patient safety events.

Is it law that doctors in all provinces have to refer potential donors?

Today, referral of potential organ donors is law in only five provinces. Currently, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia require that the provincial organ donation organization must be notified when death is imminent or established.

Would you consider this workshop a success?

Very much so. These guidelines are the result of a workshop hosted by Canadian Blood Services and the Canadian Donation and Transplant Research Program (CDTRP) that engaged representatives from critical care, neurocritical care, emergency medicine, donation, transplantation, research, health care administration, family partners, and patient safety and quality organizations. We gathered experts from areas across the organ donation community in Canada, including the very important perspectives of patients and donor families. They are the ones most impacted by donor identification and referral.

Ultimately, the meeting generated 37 expert consensus statements to establish best practices for healthcare professionals and the healthcare system with respect to donor identification and referral.

Why is collaboration among the healthcare community so important when it comes to potential donor identification and referral?

Donation opportunities are rare. Of 250 000 Canadians who die each year, only 2000-4000 will meet eligibility criteria for donation, and yet only 600 will become donors. In contrast, well over 4000 Canadians are waiting for an organ transplant.

This huge gap between actual donors and waiting recipients, the low-volume nature of organ donation and the high cost to patients if they do not receive a donated organ are the reasons that the healthcare system – and every professional working within it – must be highly coordinated in identification and referral of potential organ donors. Together, we must ensure that there are no missed opportunities in this complex process.

What are the outcomes from this collaboration?

Some of the key consensus statements developed as a result of the workshop are described as follows at both the professional and the system level. 

At the healthcare professional level, key statements include:

  1. donation should be consistently addressed as part of end-of-life care but only after a decision to withdraw life-sustaining treatment;
  2. healthcare professionals should know how and when to identify and refer potential donors; and
  3. transplant candidates should be informed of local allocation guidelines and performance.

At the healthcare system level, key statements include:

  1. national adoption of clinical criteria to trigger identification and referral;
  2. dedicated resources to match donation activities, including transfer of a potential donor;
  3. performance measurement through death audits;
  4. reporting and investigation of missed donation opportunities;
  5. recognition of top performers; and 
  6. missed donor identification and referral should be considered a preventable and critical patient safety incident

Why is it so important for Canadian patients that every potential donor is identified?

When we fail to identify and refer a donor, harm is caused to another patient who is awaiting an organ transplant. This harm is disconnected, as we don’t know the name or face of this patient on the transplant list, but it is a critical patient safety issue and an example of harm that should be prevented.

What is the impact on patients (donors and/or recipients) and their families?

Every Canadian who meets eligibility criteria has the right to be considered for organ donation. Every time a potential donor is not identified or referred, we deprive the patient and their family of fulfilling their wish to become a donor. For some families, organ donation is an important part of their grieving process and helps them attach meaning to their loved one’s death.

For transplant recipients, optimal compliance with donor identification and referral means the difference between life (receiving a transplant) and potentially death.

How can we make donor referral part of standard component of end-of-life care?

Making donor referral a part of end-of-life care falls into four key areas:

  1. The community needs proper data tracking in the form of donor audits across the country. We need to know the details (understand) of when and where and why donors are not being identified and referred. We need this data on an ongoing basis in real-time so the impact of interventions can be quickly measured.
  2. There is a need for education of healthcare professionals to know when and how to identify and refer potential donors.
  3. There is a need for legislation and policy to support compliance with donor identification and referral. For example, ALL provinces should have required referral legislation and an accreditation body that evaluates hospital performance in this area.
  4. It is essential that we advance the idea that failing to identify and refer a potential organ donor in a timely manner is a source of preventable patient harm and a public health concern. For every potential donor that is not identified and referred, a patient on the waitlist continues to wait.

In February Dr. Zavalkoff presented about this topic to the Donation Physician Network via webinar. A recording of that session can be found below. Additional webinars designed for Donation Physicians can be found on Canadian Blood Services' Professional Education website

Further reading

About the collaboration that enabled this expert guidance

Canadian Blood Services works with the Organ and Tissue Donation andTransplantation (OTDT) community to improve national system performance. We do this through the development of leading practices, professional education, public awareness and data analysis and reporting. We also manage clinical programs that support interprovincial sharing of organs. 

The Potential Organ Donor Identification and System Accountability (PODISA) Workshop was held September 20-21, 2016 in Ottawa. It was an important collaboration between Canadian Blood Services and the Canadian Donation and Transplant Research Program (CDTRP). This workshop engaged Pan-Canadian representatives from critical care, neurocritical care, emergency medicine, donation, transplantation, research, health care administration, family partners, and patient safety and quality organizations. The results have now been published.

This important evidence-based leading practice:

  • provides a national framework and consistent approach for donor identification and referral and system accountability,
  • spearheads a culture shift around organ donation and end-of-life care, and
  • unlocks potential opportunities for national collaboration, to support implementation, with patient safety and quality organizations.

 

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.

 

National organ sharing leads to 500 kidney transplants for highly sensitized patients


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The gift of transplantation has meant so much to the patients within the highly sensitized patient registry in Saskatchewan and all of Canada.” – Dr. Rahul Mainra, St. Paul’s Hospital, Saskatoon

The Highly Sensitized Patient (HSP) program is a national organ sharing program operated by Canadian Blood Services in collaboration with all provincial donation and transplant programs. The HSP program gives provincial programs access to a larger national pool of kidney donors for highly sensitized patients who need a more specific donor match.

Patients who are highly sensitized have very few potential donors with whom they are compatible and therefore need to have as many opportunities for transplantation as possible.

“In Saskatchewan, roughly 12 to 20 deceased donors give this gift every year to patients with end stage renal disease. For some highly sensitized patients, it would take years before they would find a compatible kidney transplant within our province,” explains Dr. Rahul Mainra, Vice Chair of the national Kidney Transplant Advisory Committee and nephrologist at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon. “The highly sensitized patient registry has given our patients the opportunity to be matched to all deceased donors in the country. This has provided our patients with significantly more options for transplantation.

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Rahul Mainra, MD FRCPC FRACP MMed
Rahul Mainra

Dr. Rahul Mainra, Vice chair, Kidney Transplant Advisory Committee, Director of Undergraduate Medical Education, Department of Medicine, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, St. Paul’s Hospital, Saskatoon

“We have seen the success of this program as many of our highly sensitized patients have already received a transplant after waiting years on our local wait list. Five hundred patients have a renewed lease on life with a new kidney transplant as a direct result of the Highly Sensitized Patient kidney program. The gift of transplantation has meant so much to the patients within the highly sensitized patient registry in Saskatchewan and all of Canada.”


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.


How does the program help highly sensitized patients?

The HSP program makes it more likely that people who need a kidney transplant, and who are hard to match, will find one. The program uses sophisticated technology to match the right kidney to the right patient anywhere in Canada with accuracy and efficiency.

An organ matched through the HSP program reduces the risk of potential rejection. This means highly sensitized patients have improved chances that their body will accept the new organ; the organ will last longer; and they will not end up back on a wait list. 

A collaboration with provincial HLA (human leukocyte antigen) testing laboratories is part of the national advisory structure organized by Canadian Blood Services, unique to Canada and is foundational to the success of the program.


Why is the Highly Sensitized Patient program so important?

Approximately 20 per cent of patients on provincial wait lists are highly sensitized and in need of a kidney transplant. Yet, these same patients historically receive fewer 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 HSP program increases the chances of finding kidney transplants for these hard-to-match patients.

The implementation across Canada began in October 2013 and by November 2014, all provinces and territories had joined the HSP program. The provincial and territorial Ministries of Health and provincial organ donation organizations worked together to implement this critically important national program.

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Arnold Dysart, first HSP recipient and Dr. Peter Nickerson, at HSP launch in 2015.

Arnold Dysart (left) pictured with Dr. Peter Nickerson (right), Medical Advisor, Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, Canadian Blood Services at the launch of the national HSP program . Mr. Dysart was the first recipient to receive a kidney through the Highly Sensitized Patient program in spring 2014. Formerly the superintendent of the Frontier School Division, Mr. Dysart is now retired and lives in Manitoba.

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.

Looking back on 2018: Top-five most-read stories from the RED blog


Tuesday, January 01, 2019

As the year comes to a close and 2019 is set to begin, we take a moment to reflect on the 2018 articles that were among the most popular.

#5: Raising awareness for living organ donation

In April each year, we honour organ donors and their families during National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week and encourage Canadians to consider organ donation, register their intent to donate, and discuss their wishes with families. This article focuses on raising awareness for living organ donation and was published in November on Giving Tuesday.

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.

Read more

 

#4: Meet the Researcher: Dr. Elisabeth Maurer

For the last few years, we’ve been fortunate to conduct interviews with our staff and adjunct scientists in this series of blog posts titled “Meet the Researcher…” This interview with Dr. Elizableth Maurer was number 4 on our most-read list.

"It is my vision that my work could improve the lives of others — if screening platelets could help reduce the number of patients who do not respond as well as hoped to platelet transfusion, and save more lives, this would be very rewarding.”" ~ Dr. Elisabeth Maurer, adjunct scientist, Canadian Blood Services

Read more

 

#3 In the news: UBC research brings us one step closer to universal blood

Exciting research from the University of British Columbia could make it easier to match blood to patients, by turning all blood into type O, the universal donor. This work was presented earlier in 2018 at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Boston, and created quite a buzz. We chatted wit our Chief Scientist, Dr. Dana Devine, and  Dr. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu to learn more about this exciting advance.

Read more

 

Our top two blog posts are related to blood donor eligibility criteria and the research program that is working toward evolving the eligibility criteria for men who have sex with men.

#2 MSM Research Grant Program launches second funding competition

The objective of the MSM Research Grant Program is to ensure the generation of adequate evidence-based research for alternative screening approaches for blood or plasma donors, which could evolve the current eligibility criteria for MSM while maintaining the safety of the blood supply. The program is administered by Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec with funding support from Health Canada.

Read more 

#1 The evolution of a donor deferral policy: where do we go from here?

Dr. Mindy Goldman, medical director at Canadian Blood Services, along with coauthors Dr. Dana Devine and Dr. Sheila O’Brien also from Canadian Blood Services and Dr. Andrew Shih with the Vancouver General Hospital,  published a review article in the scientific journal Vox Sanguinis, titled Donor deferral policies for men who have sex with men: past, present and future. This blog post provides an overview of the publication.

Read more

For the latest on this topic, an update on the MSM Research Program was published in December 2018

Thank you for reading about Research, Education and Discovery at Canadian Blood Services. We look forward to reporting on more exciting science, researchers and innovations in 2019 related to blood, plasma, stem cells, and organs and tissues. Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year

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.

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.

 

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.