Special guest joining Tuesday’s event: Please join us Tuesday, June 9 at 1 p.m. ET for a live Q&A with our CEO. This week, Graham will be joined by special guest, director of the Centre for Innovation, Dr. Chantale Pambrun, to answer your questions about how Canadian Blood Services is managing COVID-19 and staying on top of emerging developments. We know a lot of you have questions on areas that Dr. Pambrun’s team is part of — including antibody research projects, donor selection criteria, PPE recommendations and policies around men who have sex with men. We encourage you to send questions in advance to email@example.com with the subject line “TOWNHALL”.
How women are supporting research on convalescent plasma:
Currently, we are focusing our convalescent plasma collection program on men to support Health Canada approved clinical trials. This is because women who have been pregnant can carry antibodies that can cause transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI). This is a rare but potentially fatal reaction that a patient can have after receiving a transfusion.
Recently, we collected plasma donations from a few women to help us assess the operational feasibility of expanding our convalescent plasma collection program to include women. We anticipate we will need to broaden our program to include women in future for other purposes, like assessing tests for COVID-19 antibodies. Also, if convalescent plasma is proven to be a safe and effective treatment for patients with COVID-19, the next step could be to contribute to the development of hyper immune products to treat larger numbers of patients with the virus.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau’s donation helps raise awareness about our convalescent plasma collection program and encourages people across the country, including women, to join our online registry. More information on convalescent plasma and women is available on our website.
“Working together apart”: Whether you are working remotely or asked to maintain two meters from your colleagues — there is no doubt that the way we work looks a lot different and there is much uncertainty about when this new reality will change. Despite our distance, our teams across the country have adapted and have continued to deliver products and services for patients and donors. Last week, a colleague of ours took pen to paper and wrote out her thoughts to thank her colleagues for the important work they do. Her poem, “NCC – working together apart” is a heartfelt reminder that despite the challenges we face — what we do matters. If you haven’t read it, we encourage you take a break to read it through and see the warm and hopeful responses from our colleagues across our organization.
Question of the day: How do we respond to members of the MSM community who are frustrated that they are unable to participate in the COVID-19 convalescent plasma trial?
Convalescent plasma donors must meet all of Canada’s current plasma donor eligibility criteria to participate. While we continue to work on incremental changes to donor eligibility criteria specific to men who have sex with men, the COVID-19 outbreak has not resulted in immediate change.
However, anyone who is not currently eligible to donate blood for a variety of reasons and who lives in or near the Vancouver area is welcome and encouraged to consider donating blood for research at our Blood4Research Facility, located near the University of British Columbia campus. A number of research projects are underway, and more donors are needed.
In Canada, any change to the donor eligibility criteria that could affect patients must be evidence based and approved by Health Canada, our regulator. In June 2019, with approval from our regulator, we further reduced the blood and plasma donation waiting period in Canada to three months for men who have sex with men. Also, in partnership with Héma-Québec and with funding from Health Canada, we are supporting research projects that will inform next steps for possible change to the criteria specific to men who have sex with men. For more information about ongoing research, please visit our web page on the MSM Research Grant Program.
We continue to evaluate the latest evidence on COVID-19 and are working closely with provincial and territorial partners, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, Héma-Québec, and international blood agencies and the World Health Organization to respond appropriately as needed to the evolving pandemic.
About the daily digest
This daily digest will highlight the latest policy and employee support measures, resources to help you manage our new reality and original content like articles and videos to remind us that what we do matters. Things are moving quickly, so you can expect to hear from us daily. No access to email? No problem — all this information and more can be found on blood.ca/employees from any device, no login required.
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Have questions? Check out blood.ca/employees or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.