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. 

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.

 

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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.

1,000 kidney transplants for Canadian patients!


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

April 22-28 is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week. Green ribbons, and green-lit landmarks, will pop up across Canada this week to acknowledge and honour the donors and donor families who gave the gift of life. They also acknowledge the thousands of patients in need of a transplant and those who have died waiting. Canadians are reminded to register their intent to donate and to discuss their wishes with family and friends. Canadians can visit organtissuedonation.ca to find out how to become an organ donor.  

Today, we’re celebrating the 1000th kidney transplant made possible through the national Highly Sensitized Patient and Kidney Paired Donation programs. Congratulations Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation community! Your collaboration in creating these national programs demonstrates that Canadian patients benefit when we work together.

 

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The Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) program – launched in 2009 – is a perfect example of how interprovincial health systems work together to forge success beyond provincial borders and improve access to transplants for patients.

The success of this program can be attributed to the selflessness of those who have stepped forward to be living organ donors. Kudos to the truly altruistic non-directed anonymous donors (willing, living donors without a specific intended recipient) who make domino kidney exchanges possible.

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 program gives provincial transplant programs access to a larger national pool of kidney donors for highly sensitized patients who need a more specific donor match.

The implementation of HSP 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 the HSP program.

KPD and HSP are operated as part of the Canadian Transplant Registry, a national web-based computer program operated by Canadian Blood Services and used for linking the national potential recipient waitlist with actual organ donors.

 

What is the Kidney Paired Donation program?

The Kidney Paired Donation program is a living donation program that finds and facilitates medically compatible kidney transplants through chains of donor exchanges from medically incompatible pairs. 

How did the Kidney Paired Donation program come to be?

Often individuals are unable to donate to someone they know because testing has determined that they are not medically compatible with the transplant candidate, and the kidney would therefore be rejected.

In 2009, Canadian Blood Services, in collaboration with transplant programs across the country, established a Kidney Paired Donation program for Canada.

Working in collaboration with the provincial living donation programs, the KPD program serves patients who have a willing living donor with whom they are not medically compatible by finding another pair with whom they can swap donors so both patients receive a transplant.

How does the Kidney Paired Donation Program work?

The registry contains medical information about incompatible pairs of donors and transplant candidates from across Canada and identifies pairs that might be able to exchange kidneys. From there, it’s a matter of finding a suitable exchange and creating “chains” of matching donors and recipients. There are different types of donor and recipient chains: some are straightforward swaps (called a “paired exchange”), some involve multiple donor–candidate pairs (called a “closed chain”), and some include a nondirected anonymous donor and a person on the waitlist (called a “domino chain”).

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Kidney Paired Donation - how it works

 

The program is supported by a sophisticated web-based software to optimize the number of donors and transplant candidates matched through the Kidney Paired Donation program.

A matching algorithm is run three times a year to compare the medical information on all the pairs and non-directed donors in the Registry and identifies kidney transplant opportunities.

What does the Kidney Paired Donation program do for patients?

Kidney transplantation is the preferred therapy for patients with kidney failure. Compared with dialysis, transplantation offers significantly longer life expectancy, a better quality of life, considerable cost avoidance per patient to the health care system, and an increased likelihood that the patient will remain employed.

Transplantation of a kidney from a living donor is advantageous to the recipient.The kidney lasts, on average, 25 per cent longer compared to a deceased donor kidney.

The added benefit to this approach is that patients transplanted through kidney paired donation are not added to the waitlist and this then shortens the waitlist and wait time for those patients who are dependent on receiving a deceased donor transplant.

The Kidney Paired Donation program significantly expands access to potential donors for all Canadians with an incompatible donor; every patient who receives a living donor transplant comes off the deceased donor waitlist and thereby decreases the demand on the waitlist for others.

Who can become a living kidney donor?

Any adult who is in general good health can be assessed to become a living kidney donor. If the donor wishes to donate to a friend or family member (a transplant candidate), medical assessments are conducted to determine whether the donor is a suitable match for the recipient. With a compatible match, the directed donation can proceed through the provincial program.

If the donor is not a match for their friend or family member, they may be able to help the transplant candidate find a matching donor through the Kidney Paired Donation program.

What does being highly sensitized mean?

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

How does the program help sensitized patients?

The HSP program makes it more likely that people who need a kidney transplant, and 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 waitlist.  

The collaboration with provincial 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 was the HSP program developed?

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

Quick Facts

  • The HSP program is for patients needing very specific matches from deceased kidney donors. Through the HSP Program, this group of patients now has access to a larger national donor pool, dramatically increasing the chance of a match.
  • Women are disproportionately highly sensitized due to antibodies developed during pregnancy.
  • More than 4,500 people are waiting for organ transplants in Canada today; however, only a fraction of Canadians are registered to donate. While many Canadians are aware of the need for organ transplants, there remains a shortage of donors.
Further reading

 

Learn more about organ and tissue donation and register your intent to donate, visit organtissuedonation.ca

Celebrating 30 years of memories thanks to an organ donor


Monday, April 23, 2018

 April 22-28 marks National Organ and Tissue Donation Week in Canada — a week dedicated to raising awareness about the critical needs of patients across the country.

 

Thirty years ago, Crystal Prowse of St John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, was an 11-year-old waiting for a heart transplant. And 30 years ago, thanks to the generosity of a donor and their family, Crystal’s life changed forever.

"I have so many things to be grateful for and so many stars that lined up for me to have a transplant. It's actually quite amazing to me."

In celebration of those 30 years, Crystal's goal is to get the message out.

"I recognize that people are uncomfortable having the conversation about organ donation, but it's a conversation that needs to be had."

She knows first-hand how great the need. At age 11, she found out that to fix her sick heart the only option was transplant. She was assessed at University Hospital in London, Ontario and later moved there to wait and hope for a transplant. She and her family waited for four months for that life-saving call letting them know that a donor organ had become available.

When you're a child waiting for a transplant, everything is big and scary.

"All I wanted was to go home and play with my friends," says Crystal. "Even though I was afraid, I was looking past it to the point where I could get home and back to my life. The hope of getting back to life is what you hang on to."

At the time Crystal was the youngest heart transplant recipient in Newfoundland, and she believes she may well have been the very first heart transplant patient from the Janeway Children's Hospital in St. John's.

“When I was a kid and I was sick, my mother used to joke that when I got better I was going to have a baby brother or sister," explained Crystal. "Ten months after my transplant my baby brother was born. So, he was like my little reward. And, now, 30 years later he just had a little baby of his own! Now I have a little niece who is the light of my life."

Crystal has a collection of wonderful memories, every memory made possible because of her transplant.

 

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Top row, left to right: Crystal in hospital about one year before transplant; Crystal with members of her care team a few days post transplant; Crystal with her mom a few months post transplant. Bottom row, left to right: Crystal and her family a year post transplant; Crystal and her husband on their wedding day; Crystal, her brother and her brand new baby niece.

 

Academically, she’s excelled, acquiring several degrees. She has a rewarding career as a respiratory therapist, a role that sometimes allows her to work with transplant patients. She fell in love and was able to get married with all of her family around her.

And, she's become part of a caring and supportive community through transplant. A community of people who understand the magnitude of organ donation and the human connection that goes with it.

"My pediatric cardiologist and my cardiac surgeon were both at my wedding," says Crystal. "My cardiologist's wife made my wedding dress. It's like we have our own little transplant family."

Crystal has had a remarkable life and is continuing to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation, hoping her efforts will help the many people who are still waiting and needing a transplant.

She's living proof of the power of organ donation, and hopes to inspire others to lend support for national efforts like National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week and programs that help bring access to transplant for patients where ever they happen to live.

"Organ donation is such a selfless gift and to be around people who appreciate that...  it's pretty amazing."

Thirty years of memories, thanks to one organ donor... pretty amazing indeed.

 

Over 4,500 Canadians are currently in need of an organ transplant and, every year, more than 250 people die waiting. this week is all about making sure you’ve registered your decision and having that important conversation with friends and loved ones to ensure that your organ donation wishes and decisions are understood.

Canadians are encouraged to register / confirm their intent to donate at organtissuedonation.ca

 


 

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Organ donation organizations across Canada and Canadian Blood Services are working together this week to inspire Canadians to register their intent to donate and talk to their families about their decision.

Green ribbons, or green lit landmarks (April 25th is National Green Light Day), will pop up across Canada this week to acknowledge and honour the donors and donor families who gave the gift of life. They also acknowledge the thousands of patients in need of a transplant and those who have died waiting. Read more

Simple ways to help:

  • Register your decision to donate at organtissuedonaton.ca
  • Talk to your family about your decision to donate and ask them about their wishes.
  • Add a NOTDAW frame to your Facebook profile 
  • Join the online conversation and encourage others to register — here’s a simple message to get you started: “Talk to your family about organ and tissue donation, make sure they know your decision. #GiveLife #NOTDAW”

Find out more about National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week here

ISBT is coming to town


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) is coming to town! Seven weeks and counting down until the 35th International Congress of the ISBT takes place in Toronto. This prestigious international meeting of transfusion medicine professionals hasn’t been held here in Canada since 2002.

The early registration deadline is April 19.  

Many transfusion experts from around the world will bring their expertise to Canada enhancing our opportunities to learn about and discuss international initiatives in the Canadian context. 

The annual Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine (CSTM) meeting will be part of a “local day” just before ISBT 2018 begins. So, for many Canadian transfusion medicine professionals who attend CSTM but don’t often travel outside of Canada, this will be a great chance to experience an international conference. 

Canadian Blood Services team members will be participating in numerous sessions and presentations during CSTM local day and ISBT. The full scientific programme including abstracts selected for oral presentation is now available on the congress website

If you're already planning to attend ISBT 2018, don't forget to check out the exhibition hall. We'll be there to share some of the research and education underway Canadian Blood Services and host some activities in recognition of our 20th anniversary. Stay tuned for more on that in an upcoming post...  

Take note investigators under the age of 40!

Don’t miss the opportunity to network with peers from around the world at ISBT 2018. The application deadline for the Young Investigators Breakfast is fast approaching.

Young Investigators Breakfast

  • Tuesday June 5
  • Meet and talk to transfusion medicine experts, discuss research and get tips and suggestions

If you want to attend, complete your application form and submit to science@isbtweb.org

 

 

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Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

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

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.

Choosing Wisely Canada's transfusion recommendations find a new outlet via BloodTechNet


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Choosing Wisely Canada transfusion recommendations brought to "life" in video form by Dr. Clinton Campbell and his creative team

Since 2011, many excellent educational resources have come to life through Canadian Blood Services' BloodTechNet program. Resources like the videos below: 

Find all of the videos here on Canadian Blood Services' Professional Education website.

In this Q&A, Dr. Clinton Campbell explains how the funding his team received through the BloodTechNet program brought the Choosing Wisely Canada recommendations to life in video form. 

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Dr. Clinton Campbell, I am a hematopathologist based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The specialty of hematopathology in Canada involves all aspects of laboratory hematology, including the practice of transfusion medicine. I am currently the assistant medical director of the Halifax blood transfusion service. This role encompasses all aspects of transfusion medicine such as reviewing antibody serology to ensure the best transfusion for patients to inventory management and laboratory quality, as well as professional education.

The underlying tenant of our blood transfusion service is to work toward the safest, most responsible and best transfusion practice possible. Like any medical procedure, test or intervention, transfusion of a human blood product involves a careful balance of both risks and benefits posed to patients.

As physicians, we strive to ensure the risks outweigh the benefits, but as in any field there is always room for improvement. In this context, if there is one single question that I would say underlies the practice of transfusion medicine, which is “how can we mitigate risk and maximize benefit when we transfuse human blood products?” Answering and addressing this critically important question is essential in achieving the goal of best transfusion practice. 

What is Choosing Wisely Canada?

Choosing Wisely Canada (CWC) is an initiative designed to help physicians and patients engage in conversations about unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures, and to support physician efforts to help patients make smart choices to ensure safe, high-quality medical care.

There are currently more than 40 medical specialties involved with CWC. Each of these specialties was asked to create a list of “five things physicians and patients should question”, in regard to test ordering, medical procedures or interventions within the specialty. These lists are based on scientific evidence of potential inappropriate use or harm to patients, and each statement begins with the word “don’t” or “avoid”.

CWC lists are not meant to discourage physicians from ordering tests or procedures, but simply to open discussion and provide room for a second thought, allowing for the most well-informed, scientific and safe approach to test and procedure ordering.

Why is Choosing Wisely Canada relevant to transfusion medicine?

In my opinion, CWC has special relevance to transfusion medicine for a few reasons: 

  1. The administration of a human blood product is always associated with a range of potentially serious adverse events;
  2. Blood products are a scarce resource that are extremely dependent on a stable donor pool; and
  3. Transfusion of human blood products is one of the most common procedures performed in hospitalized patients.

To address these issues, the Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine (CSTM) developed a list of “ten things physicians and patients should avoid” in respect to transfusion medicine. One of the concerns regarding the efficacy of the CWC campaign in all disciplines is whether simply publishing lists is effective in changing physician practice.

Several studies suggest there is still significant work to be done toward effective dissemination, and while publishing lists is useful toward opening discussion, true practice change requires more widespread exposure to these recommendations. This recognized need for improvement provided a starting point for our partnership with CSTM, CWC and Canadian Blood Services to produce these videos.

How did you decide what resources and channels would best serve your goals?

As a starting point, we asked how we might develop a more effective, memorable and lasting dissemination strategy with high accessibility and exposure for the CWC transfusion recommendations. If you are at all like me (and have a short attention span), you would probably prefer to watch an educational video versus reading a guideline. And to be honest, this can be a more enjoyable, entertaining and resonant delivery method.

Video-sharing platforms like YouTube have been shown to have several advantages over publication in some types of physician education, and in addition to providing wide and highly accessible dissemination, it allows for the collection of audience data metrics. This in turns allows for an optimized and informed dissemination strategy.

So, our starting question was “can we develop a series of short, informative and entertaining animated videos for accessible and effective dissemination of CWC guidelines in transfusion medicine?” The immediate answer was yes, but, we needed an amazing team with the right skillset as well as funding to support the effort.

How did you use the BloodTechNet award to develop these resources?

The mandate of Canadian Blood Services’  BloodTechNet award fit perfectly with our goals, and this award provided the key funding needed to get the project off the ground. We were fortunate enough to partner with the outstanding and talented Faculty of Digital Animation as the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), which provided the creative and technical expertise to turn our vision into a reality.        

What was your experience in developing these resources?

The experience of actually making the videos was a challenging, fascinating and highly rewarding process for everyone involved, I think. Our goal was to make a series of five, high-quality, digitally animated videos, each showcasing one of the “top-ten” CWC transfusion medicine guidelines.

The videos would be posted on YouTube for both accessible dissemination and collection of data metrics. Our guiding criteria for making the videos from the start were that they needed to be short (less than two mins); highly focused and informative; of professional quality; and perhaps most importantly, we wanted them to be enjoyable and entertaining for maximum impact and memorability.

The transfusion guidelines selected for the videos were based on both the importance on the CWC list (those considered of highest importance are listed at the top) as well as on personal experience in clinical practice. Medical expertise was provided by myself, as well as colleagues from across Canada.

Who was on your team?

Our creative team consisted of four digital animation students at NSCC, a supervising faculty member, a professional sound editor and voice actor.

At the start of the project, in May of 2017, Canadian Blood Services kindly provided the creative team with a tour of the production facilities in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, for a “hands-on” appreciation of blood product manufacturing and transfusion in Canada.

We then started our creative approach, relying on digital collaborative tools such as Google Hangouts and Slack to facilitate the process. We actually only met face-to-face once; all other meetings were virtual. Meetings were usually held on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

How did you get started?

We started by making rough storyboard sketches of ideas based on scripts that I had written covering the five CWC transfusion medicine guidelines.

One of the biggest challenges at the start was how to convey a great deal of complex medical expertise into a simple, yet accurate graphical form rendered by our creative team of non-medical experts. We quickly adapted to this challenge, and through iteration after iteration, we saw our objectives materialize. I think our creative team had become transfusion medicine experts themselves by the time the videos were completed!

We completed production of the first video from start to finish, which allowed us to work out the creative process and produce the graphics or “assets” needed to produce the remaining four. Once these were in place, the process was much more efficient. All of the videos were designed around a common graphical motif, but each was created by an individual animator within our team. So each video has its own individual character within a common theme.

How long did it take?

The time from actual storyboarding of the ideas to final drafts was approximately six months, including both professional voice narration and sound editing. It was extremely rewarding to see the project move from a basic idea to a finished product that exceeded all of our initial expectations.

Who will use the videos, and how will they be viewed and disseminated?

These are intended for professional education, and we hope they will be used by colleagues, residents, medical students and other allied health professionals to help foster best transfusion practice. To date, they have been posted on the CSTM and Canadian Blood Services websites, as well as the Canadian Blood Services and Choosing Wisely Canada YouTube channels.

We have had a highly encouraging number of views in a short time, suggesting dissemination has been quite effective so far. For example, colleagues in Toronto have been highly supportive by integrating our videos into their transfusion education curriculum and circulating via Twitter.

Data metrics will be examined after six months to have some objective measure of the efficacy of dissemination. Later, we hope toproduce videos for the additional five CWC transfusion guidelines, if we can find sufficient funding.

Fun fact: The animators and myself have discussed the idea of forming  a small startup company to facilitate additional similar projects, as we have had a great deal of enthusiasm and interest for a number of projects involving both professional and patient education.

Have you enjoyed the process of developing these videos?

This has been an amazing and exciting process, and truly demonstrates that motivation, teamwork and dedication can take an idea from the whiteboard into a real-life application. From my perspective, if we can show that our initiative has even the smallest, positive impact on blood product utilization, then we have accomplished our goal of striving for the best transfusion practice possible, and ultimately, doing what is right and best for patient care.

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

Further reading

Social media for knowledge translation – a BloodTechNet project

 

The BloodTechNet Learning Fund was launched in 2011 by Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation. The BloodTechNet Competition, with support from Grifols, facilitates the development of innovative educational projects that support the Transfusion, Cellular Therapy and Transplantation communities in Canada.

Find out more about the educational resources developed through the BloodTechNet program.

 


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.

Curiosity on Stage – getting up close and personal with a real live scientist


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Curiosity on Stage is a clever new program at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. It invites visitors of all ages to learn directly from scientists and researchers. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the audience to ask questions and to interact with a scientist in person. It truly provides insight into what people who are working in science and technology fields do and why that work really matters. The program is sure to inspire curious kids to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

 

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A few weeks ago, our own Chief Scientist, Dr. Dana Devine, was on “display” at Canada’s national science museum. We were delighted to be invited to participate.  

Dr. Devine provided the audience a brief look at the components of blood, blood types and why blood types matter, and she also spoke about blood safety.

 

An interactive Q&A followed: audience questions – from both adults and children – were interesting and diverse.

 

Alongside Dr. Devine’s presentation, guests were given the opportunity to find out their blood type.

 

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On the walls behind the blood typing tables, a primer video about blood, plasma, stem cell and organ and tissue donation played.

"What a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to convey the excitement of science to kids and to share a bit about how one gets to be a scientist. The added benefit to focusing on blood research was to be able to get the message out to both the kids and their parents about blood donation and being able to help others." ~ Dr. Devine

 

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The museum is a fantastic place for hands-on learning, and real engagement with science and technology. The staff are amazing and the programming is top-notch! We hope to partner with the Canada Science and Technology Museum again sometime soon. 

 

“Curiosity on Stage invites you to learn directly from people working in the science and technology-related fields. Find out what they do and why it matters – and leave inspired by their stories of curiosity, overcoming obstacles, and innovation.” ~ Canada Science and Technology Museum 

Photo credits:Ingenium – Canada's Museums of Science and Innovation


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.

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