Thousands across Canada may be newly eligible to donate blood and plasma
Thousands of people across Canada who have spent time in countries affected by the human variant of ‘mad cow’ disease are becoming eligible to donate blood, plasma or platelets ― some for the first time in decades, others for the first time ever.
It’s the result of an update to blood donation eligibility criteria related to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human variant of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) ― commonly known as ‘mad cow’ disease. Earlier eligibility criteria prevented people from donating blood, plasma or platelets in Canada if they had lived or spent time in the United Kingdom in the years 1980-1996, or in the Republic of Ireland or France in the years 1980-2001.
Health Canada has now confirmed that residency or travel in those countries during those periods will no longer be a barrier to donation.
vCJD is a very rare, fatal disease that may be contracted by eating beef and beef products from animals affected by BSE. People with vCJD may be infected for many years before showing symptoms.
Because vCJD can be transmitted by blood, Canadian Blood Services and other blood operators around the world made changes to blood donation criteria in the 1990s. People from areas where vCJD was perceived to be a risk, due to distribution of potentially contaminated beef, became ineligible to donate blood, plasma or platelets.
After 30 years of research and epidemiological surveillance in Canada and around the world, we know much more about the potential for exposure to contaminated beef products and the risk of humans acquiring vCJD. The science is showing us that removing these barriers to donation will not lead to an increase in vCJD transmission.
This latest updates to eligibility criteria are consistent with those made recently by other blood operators around the world, including the United States, Ireland, Australia and Israel.
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Our new resources for health-care professionals
To support best practices in transfusion medicine, Canadian Blood Services develops educational resources in collaboration with subject-matter experts from across Canada.
To find our latest resources, visit our professional education website, a trusted resource hub for health-care professionals across the country:
Innovation & Portfolio Management Annual Impact Report 2022 – 2023, Integrating Research & Development into the Canadian Blood System
This report highlights the remarkable accomplishments of Canadian Blood Services' Innovation & Portfolio Management team over the past five years and provides a glimpse into the path ahead. Thank you to everyone in Canadian Blood Services' research and education network, whose contributions and collaborations have made these successes possible.
Red cell antigen genotyping reports: online course
Canadian Blood Services performs extended red cell antigen genotyping at the National Immunohematology Reference Laboratory (NIRL) using Grifols’ ID CORE XT assay and shares the results in a report. A new online course, Interpreting the red cell antigen genotyping report, supports physicians, nurse practitioners, medical laboratory technologists, and other healthcare providers in interpreting the report and understanding the significance of results.
Visual Inspection Tool
The Visual Inspection Tool is a bench-level tool for personnel in the hospital setting who handle blood components for transfusion. It uses photos to depict variations in the typical appearance of blood components, along with descriptions of the conditions or characteristics that may change the appearance of red blood cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. The Visual Inspection Tool is an educational resource meant to inform the user about visual variability of blood components and its causes. Whether or not a blood component is suitable for transfusion is determined by local hospital policy and procedures. The Visual Inspection Tool replaces the Visual Assessment Guide and may be viewed on a desktop or mobile device; it is not intended for printing. French translation of the Visual Inspection Tool is underway.
Clinical Guide to Transfusion, Chapter 4: Immunoglobulin products
Immunoglobulin (Ig) products are manufactured from large volumes of donated plasma and may be used as replacement therapy for immunodeficient patients or as immunomodulatory therapy for autoimmune and alloimmune disorders. This updated chapter in the Clinical Guide to Transfusion includes information on intravenous Ig (IVIg), subcutaneous Ig (SCIg), and hyperimmune globulins such as RhD Ig (RhIg).
Clinical Guide to Transfusion, Chapter 20: Granulocyte transfusion therapy – now in French!
Whether granulocyte transfusion improves survival in patients with invasive infections remains unresolved. This new Clinical Guide to Transfusion chapter provides an overview of granulocyte concentrates, including clinical evidence, indications, and recent innovations in manufacturing.
FAQ: Information for health professionals ordering granulocyte concentrates – now in French!
This FAQ summarizes the ordering process for granulocyte concentrates, includes links to the ordering forms and provides information on delivery, storage and reporting requirements. Granulocyte concentrates are manufactured and distributed by Héma-Québec.
Breakthroughs in blood: recorded webinar series
Breakthroughs in blood: Advancements into action is a webinar series for sharing groundbreaking findings in blood research and promoting best practices in transfusion. On our professional education website, you’ll find webinar recordings and related resources and tools to support practice change. The resources, organized by webinar date and topic, are relevant for health-care professionals, hospital administrators, policy makers and researchers.
The LearnTransfusion series is the seminar component of the Areas of Focused Competency (AFC)-Diploma Program in Transfusion Medicine. The series is open to all practitioners in the field of Transfusion Medicine. Video recordings from 2023–24 LearnTransfusion presentations (where presenters have consented to recording) are now posted on the professional education website. Check back regularly as additional videos will be added. Note: certificates of attendance for Continuing Medical Education purposes will not be provided for viewing recorded presentations.
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Living kidney donation: Angelica’s perfect match
It’s 6 a.m., and Angelica Rotundo is at the hospital preparing for surgery. So is her husband, Nick. They’re not thinking about what comes next for themselves. They’re terrified for each other.
Nick hugs her, they cry, and as he’s wheeled to the operating room, he tells her the same thing he told her 10 years earlier: “I’m going to be here for you regardless of what happens. Everything is going to be fine.”
The last time he’d uttered those words, Angelica had just left her doctor’s office with a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease. It wasn’t exactly a surprise — five of her family members have had the same illness — but it was still devastating news.
“It was so scary, because when I hit that point of being 25 and diagnosed, 50 per cent of my kidney function was already gone. It was kind of like I had one kidney,” Angelica says.
“Having Nick hold me and support me and tell me everything was going to be okay was so essential. We had just started dating, so I didn’t expect him to really step up in that way.”
Find out the full story of how Angelica found her prefect living kidney donor match here.
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Our 2022–2023 annual report is available now
Each fall, Canadian Blood Services’ annual report is published to showcase some of the biggest accomplishments, points of impact and inspiring stories made possible by our work throughout the past fiscal year. The report also reviews the organization’s financial information and is an important piece of governance and transparency.
This year’s annual report, Making All the Difference, defines how we — an organization that provides life essentials for transfusion and transplantation—make a difference in the lives of patients, in communities across the country and in collaboration with Canada’s health systems.
Blood and plasma
Throughout the report you will read about resilience in our supply chain and how our teams ensure blood is where it needs to be when it needs to be there. You will read about the growing plasma collection effort; where we’re currently operating as well as the plan to increase plasma sufficiency.
Important areas of research are covered in the report including: a study about deceased organ donor family experiences in hospitals and how it can be improved. You will also read about the benefits of incorporating a pharmacist into the care of patients relying on medications made from plasma protein and related products and learn more about our seroprevalence research contributions.
Building a more inclusive blood system
The report goes into detail about aspects of our work aimed at increasing inclusivity in Canada’s blood system. You’ll read about the strengths and opportunities for growth following the implementation of sexual behaviour-based screening questions for blood donors.
Progress made in our Reconciliation journey is also detailed with perspective from a member of our Indigenous Council. And a plasma recipient, shares her experience working with the plasma team to increase accessibility for people who use assistive mobility devices.
The importance of connection
As we move further away from COVID-19 related lock downs, this report highlights the benefits of getting back to in-person work. We also hear how the return to in-person events is helping the recruitment teams increase the number of stem cell registrants.
Read the full report on blood.ca.
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The 19th Annual Transfusion Medicine Education Web Symposium: The Blueprint for Massive Hemorrhage Protocol Development, Implementation and Optimization in Rural Hospitals
Hosted by Canadian Blood Services and the Ontario Regional Blood Coordinating Network (ORBCoN), the symposium is designed to enhance the transfusion skills of healthcare professionals working in community hospitals, with a focus on improving patient outcomes. We invite physicians, nurses, technologists, residents, trainees, and students involved in the ordering, issuing or transfusing of blood and blood products, particularly from rural and small hospital settings, to attend.
This year’s symposium will focus on rural/small hospital development and implementation of massive hemorrhage protocols (MHPs) as well as optimizing patient care prior to transfer. Titled The Blueprint for Massive Hemorrhage Protocol: Development, Implementation, and Optimization in Rural Hospitals, the symposium will be presented as a half-day webinar on Thursday, April 11, 2024 with identical morning and afternoon sessions.
“While massive bleeding events are uncommon in smaller rural hospitals, vascular trauma is actually more common per capita in rural areas compared with urban centres,” says Dr. Dorien Ruijs, Clinical Project Coordinator for ORBCoN and co-chair of the symposium organizing committee. “Yet rural hospitals are likely to have less experience dealing with these patients, and may have limited resources in terms of staffing, laboratory testing and blood components on site. This makes having a protocol even more important; having the processes in place to deal with an urgent and often stressful patient scenario. The Ontario recommendations for Massive Hemorrhage Protocol were developed to be adaptable for all scopes of health care facilities, including rural sites, whether hospitals or nursing stations”.
The symposium will feature presentations by a panel of experts about developing an MHP and interpreting recommendations for rural hospitals, implementing and maintaining an MHP, and optimizing pre-transfer care of patients suspected of needing MHP.
Registration for this virtual event is free. The symposium will be accredited for Continuing Medical Education (CME) by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada.
In addition to the morning and afternoon sessions on April 11, we are pleased to offer a technical workshop for Ontario Transfusion Medicine laboratories. Registration is required by March 6, 2024, to receive the case materials. The case review discussions will be held on Wednesday, April 10. Please visit 2024 CBS/ORBCoN Technical Wet Workshop – Transfusion Ontario https://transfusionontario.org/en/events/ for registration.
If you have any questions, please contact Amanda Nowry at firstname.lastname@example.org or Valérie Rhéaume at email@example.com.
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