AROUND THE WORLD IN STEM CELLS
Fifth Anniversary Focuses on Providing More Matches for Patients
Stakeholder Workshop Brings Recommendations to Redefining OneMatch Strategy
One of OneMatch registration events focused on optimal donors.
On November 7th 2007 Canada celebrated Canadian Blood Services’ stem cell program becoming OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, a program dedicated to searching and recruiting healthy and committed volunteer donors for Canadian and international stem cell patients. This place in history represented a giant leap forward in the way volunteer donors were recruited, HLA-typed and managed when matched to patients in need of stem cell transplants. Buccal swabs and online registration represented two primary methods introduced in 2007 to engage more Canadians to become potential stem cell donors by joining the network.
“2007 allowed us to start shifting our strategic focus to patients and the transplant community,” says Donna Killeen, Director of Operational and Strategic Performance for the Stem Cells business line. “By improving our operations in regards to recruitment, has allowed us to concentrate on other equally important strategic initiatives as increasing search times and much needed process improvements. This can be seen with the EMDIS partnership and the upcoming Stem Cells National Systems Solution. Both crucial to advancing our strategy on quality, sustainability and international leadership within the stem cell community.”
As with all businesses immersed within science, advancing strategy can be difficult at the best of times. This is now being experienced at OneMatch by requests for higher resolution HLA-typing, increased ethnically-diverse searching and the repeated selection of younger stem cell donors for transplantation.
In an effort to address and understand how these new and emerging trends will affect our strategic direction, Donna and Executive Director Sue Smith, recently brought together a collection of ‘subject matter experts’ to gain an understanding of how best to move forward, and how to deal with the ethical and operational dilemmas surrounding each trend.
Hunkered down within the Toronto suburb of Malton, a team of 24 members from patient families, patient groups, recruitment partners, international registries, community groups, and transplant physicians followed the direction of the Syntegrity Group as they encouraged and fostered the collaborative skills of each member to help form a recruitment strategy.
The question was posed, ‘Given scientific evidence supporting a stem cell recruitment strategy that favours young (ages 17 to 35), male, diverse donors, what must Canadian Blood Services do to implement this strategy and how should it deal with those not defined as ‘optimal.’’
“The statement was crafted to encompass the main processes involved in staking out a new recruitment strategy, including HLA-typing, diversity needs and young male donors,” affirms Donna. “A robust recruitment strategy is foundational to supporting our thrust to improve patient outcomes. The Syntegrity Group will now distil down all the discussions and conversations and recommend how to move our recruitment strategy forward.”
By the end of the third day, grey cells exhausted, the teams provided clear recommendations around 8 fundamental avenues to address the question around recruitment.
“To chart a course towards strategic direction, you need to know first where you are. By bringing together thought leaders of varied stem cell community disciplines, partners and stakeholders, including our organization, we were be able to take stock on our current state, and through recommendations, map out a direction regarding our recruitment strategy,” confirms Donna.
When asked if the new recruitment strategy will provide another place in history for the stem cell program, Donna pauses for thought, “As stem cell transplantation in Canada is still a young initiative (first successful bone marrow transplant in 1968), there is much to learn. Our ultimate goal is to ensure better outcomes for all our Canadian patients. In celebrating the past five years of the OneMatch Network, the recent stakeholder exercise offered the perfect gift to help us adjust and refine our strategies to keep up with the persevering demand of serving our transplant community and their patients.”