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. 

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.

 

Canadian Blood Services receives Omandt Solandt Award


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

On June 5, Canadian Blood Services was honoured to accept the Canadian Operational Research Society's Omandt Solandt Award at a reception in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Michelle Rogerson, Director, Supply Chain (Atlantic), Canadian Blood Services, accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

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About this award

Dr. Omand McKillop Solandt was the first president of the Canadian Operational Research Society.  He was a physician and surgeon, who graduated from the University of Toronto and did post-graduate work at Cambridge in the 1930s. When the Second World War broke out, Dr. Solandt investigated the fighting conditions in armoured vehicles. His early work lead to the discovery that exhaust from the main gun feeding back into the tank caused crew members to lose consciousness. 

Solandt was instrumental in the founding of Operational Research and  he became Superintendent of the British Army Operational Group in 1944.  Following the war, he became Director General of Operational Research in Canada and founding chair of the Defence Research Board.  Dr. Solandt later worked for Canadian National, de Havilland Aircraft, and the Canadian Geographical Society. Awarding the Solandt prize to Canadian Blood Services is particularly apropos, since Dr. Solandt’s career began as a blood banker.

 

Delivering blood products to Canadians efficiently and effectively is a key element of Canadian Blood Services’ mandate. As part of our day-to-day business and, through our support of research, Canadian Blood Services is both a practitioner and creator of operational research.  

As described in the award citation, Canadian Blood Services has a cadre of industrial engineers working in areas such as supply chain and donor services to increase donor satisfaction and retention, develop innovative production methods, and create seamless, integrated delivery networks.  A recent, remarkable pairing between Canadian Blood Services and Toyota Canada saw the application of operational research and industrial engineering methodologies while rolling out lean production techniques in the organization’s Brampton production centre. 

We have also supported the development of new operational research knowledge through applied research conducted with researchers such as Dr. John Blake at Dalhousie University. Canadian Blood Services has used operational research, developed in house, to bring evidence-based decisions to complex and contentious issues such as consolidating regional production centres or determining the optimal ethnic composition of the nation’s adult stem cell donor registry.

We are proud to be recognized for the application of operational research and continued development of new operational research knowledge through the 2018 Omand Solandt Award.


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.

Rare blood: a program to ensure access to blood no matter how rare


Monday, May 28, 2018

On the surface of our red blood cells are proteins called antigens. There are more than 600 known antigens — and some combinations of antigens are far less common than others.

Through our Rare Blood Program, we make sure lifesaving rare blood is available to patients whenever and wherever it’s needed.

A person has rare blood if only one person in 500 has the same combination of antigens as they do. And if only one in 1,000 people has that same combination, that person’s blood is considered very rare.

Dr. Gwen Clarke answers a few questions about rare blood and Canadian Blood Services' rare blood program.

Because antigens are inherited, family members of known rare blood donors or patients with rare blood types may also have rare blood. Because blood types are inherited, a person with a rare blood type may have family members with that same rare type. In fact, the chances are one in four that the brothers or sisters of a person with a rare blood type will have the same rare type. Patients who need rare blood are encouraged to speak with their siblings and ask them to consider becoming a blood donor by contacting the Rare Blood Program to arrange for testing. 

Rare blood donors can give blood every 8 to 12 weeks — but may also be called upon as needed if their specific rare blood type is urgently required.

Canadian Blood Services’ Rare Blood program provides resources for rare blood donors, recipients and clinicians. Learn more

Saving lives around the world

Rare blood is rare all over the world, not just in Canada — making it important for national and international blood operators to work together. Canadian Blood Services is proud to partner with the International Rare Donor Panel (IRDP).

Each unit of rare blood can be frozen in long-term storage so it can be available when needed. But if no units of a rare blood type are available in any of our facilities — and if no donors can come in and donate right away — we contact the IRDP. The IRDP database comprises more than 5,000 rare donors in 27 countries.

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This partnership helps ensure patient needs for rare blood are met here in Canada. And because Canadian donors are part of the IRDP database, we can do our part in helping other countries meet their patients’ rare blood transfusion needs.

Read more about rare blood 

To learn more about the Canadian Blood Services Rare Blood Program visit blood.ca/blood/rare-blood-program

Download the


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

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

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author 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.

Dr. Peter Nickerson awarded Kidney Foundation Medal for Research Excellence


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

On May 5th, the Kidney Foundation of Canada announced that Dr. Peter Nickerson is the winner of their 2018 Medal for Research Excellence. A well deserved honour indeed. We're proud to congratulate Dr. Nickerson on this award. 

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Dr. Nickerson is widely recognized for his role in building a national transplant network for hard-to-match kidney patients. As medical advisor with Canadian Blood Services’ Donation and Transplantation program, he was instrumental in developing national kidney programs such as the Highly Sensitized Patient (HSP) program that is giving new hope to Canadians who previously had very little opportunity for a kidney transplant, saving lives and impacting hundreds of patients and families. Of the more than 2,200 patients who are waiting for a kidney transplant in Canada today, almost 500 are highly sensitized, and therefore likely to reject more than 95 per cent of potential donor organs. Historically, these patients have waited much longer for suitable organs, spent more time on dialysis, or died before a suitable organ match could be found.

“With Dr. Nickerson’s leadership and collaboration with the team at Canadian Blood Services in launching the Highly Sensitized Patient Kidney program, health systems are now sharing kidneys across the country for one purpose: to find more Canadian patients a kidney, sooner,” said Dr. Graham Sher, CEO, Canadian Blood Services. 

“This program has enabled transplants for more than 400 sensitized patients, some of whom waited decades on dialysis,” added Amber Appleby, interim director, donation and transplantation, Canadian Blood Services.

National kidney programs at Canadian Blood Services recently celebrated at milestone: 1000 kidney transplants that otherwise would not have happened

Dr. Nickerson is a Distinguished Professor of Internal Medicine and Immunology at the Max Rady College of Medicine, University of Manitoba, and Vice Dean (Research) in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. He holds a number of other senior positions in addition to the abovementioned, including Medical Director of Transplant Manitoba, Medical Advisor with Canadian Blood Services, Medical Consultant, Transplant Immunology Laboratory, at Shared Health and the Flynn Family Chair in Renal Transplant at the University of Manitoba. His research interests include transplant immunology, non-invasive diagnostics monitoring immune activation, and health policy and system design.

Dr. Nickerson and his research team are developing non-invasive diagnostic tools (urine chemokine measurements) that are now in the final validation stages for use as diagnostic and prognostic markers. The researchers have also been recognized for their work identifying the role of HLA antibodies in causing premature kidney graft loss. Currently, the team’s research has been at the forefront of HLA molecular mismatch assessment, which is setting the stage for precision and personalized medicine in kidney transplantation.

Read more about Dr. Nickerson's important contributions to kidney donation and transplantion. 

 


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

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

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author 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.

James Kreppner Award goes to University of Saskatchewan’s Alana Cattapan


Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Alana Cattapan, assistant professor in the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) has been awarded the Canadian Blood Services’ James Kreppner Award ($43,275) to study the issues related to the commercialization of blood and tissue in Canada. 

James Kreppner was a former board member of Canadian Blood Services and a strong advocate for blood safety. He challenged assumptions when necessary and inspired the highest standards of analysis and decision-making. This award named in his honour supports research of high quality, to inform legal and policy questions related to the products and services provided by Canadian Blood Services today.

We took a few minutes to chat with Alana about her work and the project this award supports.

Who are you and what do you do? 

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My name is Alana Cattapan and I am an Assistant Professor in the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan.

What is your area of research?

My research focuses on the governance of women’s health in Canada. I conduct a lot of research on reproductive technologies, but also reproductive labour, and the commercialization of the body. I am also conducting a range of projects that focus on issues of access to health care services that are often excluded from provincial health insurance programs.

I often study the discourses related to payment for human sperm and eggs, and I continue to conduct research that examines ethical, legal, and social concerns related to the commercialization and commodification of body parts. The establishment of for-profit plasma clinics in Saskatoon and Moncton have motivated me to think about the relationship between reproductive tissues and plasma, blood, and organs in new ways. 

Why did you apply for the James Kreppner Award? How will it support your work?

Canadian jurisdictions have legislation that ban the sale of organs, but this legislation includes exemptions for other body parts. For example, in Nova Scotia, blood and blood constituents can be sold, as can “zygotes, oocyctes, embryos, semen, or ova.” The legislation used to include skin and bone and other tissues “replaceable by natural processes of repair” but it was amended in 2010. With rising concerns about the impacts of paying for plasma, some provinces are tightening up their laws, and Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and BC now restrict the sale of plasma, although this is not the case everywhere.

My work will identify the arguments and debates that have occurred over time, in legislatures across the country to identify how different exemptions for the sale of different body parts have come about. My goal is to identify the historical evolution of these exemptions, where we are today, and how we can use historical arguments to establish a more ethically consistent and harmonized approach to the sale of human body parts—including plasma—in Canada. 

The James Kreppner Award will allow me to take the time to work through the histories of arguments and discourses related to payment for body parts in ways that extend well-beyond reproductive tissues. I’m a new professor with a lot of demands on my time, and the Kreppner Award will allow me to focus on this research quite a bit. It will also allow me to engage with my co-applicants (Barbara von Tigerstrom, Erin Nelson, and Rosanne Dawson). It will also support my student research assistants who will help me with this project and allow us to make this research accessible to audiences across the country.

What do you hope to achieve with your project? 

The project has four central objectives. The first is simply to find out how this wide range of exemptions came to be include in human tissue legislation in Canada –to get this research done. The second is to consider what legal reform strategies could be used to get the provinces more closely aligned on this issue. The third is to disseminate our findings in ways that could be taken up by law associations, policymakers, and politicians, that is, tomake law reform happen. And the final objective is to make sure that the Canadian public has a clearer understanding of why consistent, ethically informed governance of the sale of human tissues across Canada is an important issue.

Why is this work important for you, and for Canada? 

This work is important to me because while I’m relatively new to Saskatoon, I’m committed to this community and am concerned about the payment for plasma and its potentially detrimental effects on blood donation in the city. And while blood donation has surged following the tragic accident involving the Humboldt Broncos, as a citizen, a blood donor, and a scholar committed to the non-commercialization of the body, I am worried about the long-term sustainability of blood donation in my new province.

This work is important for Canada for some of the same reasons, notably the ongoing need for a sustainable, safe blood donation system. But the project, and the investigation of the arguments over time, will also reveal whether commitments to the non-commercialization of body parts remains strong in Canada, and whether these concerns differ from province to province. Sorting out how to proceed and if altruism remains an important value can help guide our actions (and the actions of policymakers and politicians) in the years to come.

 

Read more: Canadian Blood Services funds JSGS-led research to investigate harmonization and reform of legislation on the sale of blood and tissue

 


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

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

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author 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.

Grow your lab science toolkit with The Objective Lens podcast


Friday, April 27, 2018

National Medical Laboratory Week 2018, also known as Lab Week, is one campaign that The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) energetically promotes to inspire lab professionals to share their professional lives with the public. This year, Lab Week is from April 22-28.

The Objective Lens is the official podcast produced by the CSMLS. In this podcast, industry experts discuss life in the medical laboratory and provide insight into the issues that are important to the people who work in them.

Each episode aims to help lab professionals navigate their daily work lives by equipping them with a practical toolkit. This season, episodes have included providing people with traditional and alternative tools to grow public science literacy, improve intraprofessional communication and develop strategies to foster top talent in the health care system.

In this week’s episode (ep. #17), you’ll even hear our very own Rob Romans chat about working with hospital customers and the one and only Dr. Dana Devine talking about research at Canadian Blood Services.

As the professional society for medical laboratory professionals in Canada, the CSMLS is committed to ensuring the lab community thrives in an ever-changing industry. To do this, the CSMLS encourages its members to actively participate in the advocacy of their profession.

A great way to spread awareness of the national lab community during Lab Week is to spread the word about The Objective Lens podcast.

Be sure to give The Objective Lens a listen. You can find the podcast on the CSMLS website, iTunes and Google Play. If you like what you hear, don’t forget to subscribe, like or rate the podcast. The more you show your appreciation for it, the more new listeners will be able to find it and learn from it. You can also connect with @csmls on Twitter and Facebook.

Did you know that as a Canadian Blood Servcies' Partners for Life, CSMLS adopted blood donations clinics across the country for #LabWeek.  Thank you CSMLS!!!

This post was developed with support from Kate Hendriks at CSMLS. 

 

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.

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.

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