Blood

Canadian Blood Services scientist Alan Lazarus honoured by the Canadian transfusion community


Tuesday, May 26, 2020 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Like many in the Canadian transfusion medicine community, Dr. Alan Lazarus should be travelling to Montreal, QC this week to attend the now cancelled Canadian Society for Transfusion Medicine 2020 conference. Not being able to gather together with colleagues this year must be especially bittersweet for Dr. Lazarus, who is the recipient of the 2020 Ortho Award. This prestigious award recognizes an individual who has provided a major service or innovation in transfusion medicine.

Dr. Lazarus is a senior scientist at Canadian Blood Services, and a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, a scientist at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, a staff scientist in the department of laboratory medicine and pathobiology at St. Michael’s Hospital. He is being honoured for his extensive research work to understand the mechanism of action of IVIg in disease. Dr. Lazarus’ work in this area over the past two decades has helped advance our understanding of how IVIg, a biological drug derived from the plasma of thousands of blood donors, works in immune thrombocytopenia and other immune disorders. He has also done extensive research to find alternatives to IVIg, an expensive and in-demand therapy. Dr. Lazarus has recently shown that monoclonal antibodies that mimic anti-D may be effective in autoimmune diseases, which are often treated with IVIg. This indicates their potential to be developed as alternative treatments, which might reduce the use of IVIg. Dr. Lazarus holds several patents and has published dozens of highly-cited peer-reviewed publications.  

In Montreal, Dr. Lazarus would have had the opportunity to give an award talk, receive the award in person and celebrate with his colleagues. I reached out to Dr. Lazarus at his home in Toronto to ask what he is working on now and how he plans to celebrate his award.

Dr. Alan Lazarus
Dr. Alan Lazarus, 2020 Ortho Award recipient

What are you working on right now?

“I am continuing my work related to replacing IVIg with monoclonal antibodies. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, my laboratory is currently shut. However, we’re in the planning stages of some exciting research. We are hoping to bring our laboratory’s expertise with antibodies and immunology to bear to further understanding of COVID-19.

We plan to investigate how antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus – the virus that causes COVID-19 – might mediate antibody-dependent enhancement of infection. Antibody-dependent enhancement is a phenomenon in which the antibodies produced to fight a virus lead to an increase in disease severity, rather than providing protection. This phenomenon occurs with many viruses, including dengue virus and SARS-CoV-2's close relatives in the coronavirus family, MERS and SARS-CoV-1 (the viruses that cause Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and SARS, respectively). It may help explain why the severity of COVID-19 disease varies widely; some patients have only a mild infection, while others become critically ill. We plan to investigate this phenomenon with SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory setting to better understand the disease and inform the development of vaccines and therapies such as convalescent plasma.”

How will you celebrate winning the Ortho Award?

“I never really thought about celebrating, I think I’ll have a beer on my front porch!”

I think a beer is very well-deserved! Congratulations again to Dr. Lazarus!

CSTM is hoping to host a virtual Ortho Award lecture. Keep an eye on the CSTM website news for an announcement.

Dr. Lazarus joins a distinguished list of Canadian Blood Services’ colleagues who are past recipients of this honour:

Dr. Donald Branch (2003)

Dr. Morris Blajchman (2004)

Dr. Mindy Goldman (2005)

Dr. Debra Lane (2013)

Dr. Dana Devine (2015)

Dr. Jason Acker (2017)

In 2015, Dr. Lazarus was honoured by the AABB with the Tobor Greenwalt Memorial Award and Lectureship which recognized his outstanding contributions transfusion medicine.



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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Funding awarded to researchers to optimize blood product use


Thursday, April 30, 2020 Everad Tilokee

Through the Blood Efficiency Accelerator Program, Canadian Blood Services supports

projects that improve the use of blood products. These improvements can be realized at any point from vein to vein, that is from the point of blood collection, through manufacturing, distribution, and storage, to clinical use.

Congratulations to the recent Blood Efficiency Accelerator Program recipients:

  • Jason Acker (University of Alberta & Canadian Blood Services) 
  • Calvino Cheng (Dalhousie University)
  • Andrew Shih (University of British Columbia) 

These projects will increase our understanding of how to optimize the use of blood products to better serve Canadians.

For example, when stored frozen red blood cells must remain below -65°C. However, occasionally during storage, these red blood cells may experience unintentional warming. Jason Acker’s project will evaluate the impact of unintentional warming on the quality of red blood cells. The results may lead to changes in the storage and management of frozen red blood cells.

Despite being within their shelf life, blood products can be  discarded prior to being transfused into a patient. Calvino Cheng’s team will use artificial intelligence technology to investigate why blood products are discarded. Looking at data from several Nova Scotia hospitals, his work aims to identify discard trends to allow hospital staff to respond quickly to reduce blood product wastage.

Andrew Shih’s project will focus on patients undergoing stem cell transplantation often used to treat cancers of the blood and bone marrow. Sometimes patients receive stem cells from donors who are not of the same blood type. With time, the recipient’s blood type will switch to their donor’s blood type. This presents a complex situation if the recipient needs a blood transfusion, and so these patients receive universal blood. Andrew Shih’s team will use a series of blood and genetic testing to determine when recipients undergo blood type switching to reduce the unnecessary use of universal blood.

To learn more about these funded research projects, visit our funded research projects page.

Call for applications!

Do you have an idea that might improve the efficient and appropriate use of blood products?

The BEAP Summer 2020 competition is currently open with an application deadline of July 17, 2020.

The Postdoctoral Fellowship Program 2020 competition is also open and accepting applications until July 17, 2020.

To learn more about these Programs, visit our research funding opportunities page.

To stay informed about Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation funding opportunities, please sign up for our Research & Education newsletter.


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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Friday, November 29, 2019
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

The Centre for Innovation supports research, innovation and education in key areas in blood, plasma, stem cells, and organs and tissues. This support is in part through the many competitive funding programs centre administers. These are open to Canadian researchers interested in pursuing projects focused on Canadian Blood Services priorities. Read on to learn about the recent recipients of funding through our Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and our Blood Efficiency Accelerator Award Program.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Everad Tilokee

In 2017, the Centre for Innovation established a new research funding program – the Blood Efficiency Accelerator Award Program or “BEAP”. The BEAP funds research to improve the efficient and appropriate use of blood and blood products. Quick Facts: BEAP was established in 2017 to support research...


Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Everad Tilokee

Centre for Innovation funding programs like the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program enable experts in the fields of transfusion and transplantation medicine to deepen their understanding of the blood system while making vital steps towards a safer, more effective and responsive system for Canada. This program provides postdoctoral fellows with salary support to conduct their research and a supplementary research allowance which can be used towards purchasing materials, supplies, and other services needed to ensure a successful project.

Hemophilia’s global impact is greater than previously thought


Friday, April 17, 2020 Tricia Abe

A new study suggests more men have hemophilia worldwide than previously thought and highlights the need for improved hemophilia care.

Hemophilia, an inherited blood disorder that affects mostly men, impairs a person’s ability to clot blood. Although it can’t be cured, hemophilia can be treated by injecting a patient with clotting factor concentrates to help restore clotting factors to normal levels. But treatment is expensive and may not be available to all patients, especially in lower-income countries.

An international team that included researchers from the McMaster Centre for Transfusion Research (MCTR), which is supported by Canadian Blood Services, analysed data from national patient registries to estimate hemophilia’s impact on populations worldwide. Their key findings include:

  • The first global estimates of the number of newborns with hemophilia, distinguished by the two major types (A or B): approximately 25 cases per 100,000 males for all severities of hemophilia A and 5.0 cases per 100,000 males for all severities of hemophilia B.
  • A global estimate of the number of male patients with hemophilia: 1,125,000—almost three times greater than an earlier estimate.
  • Estimates of life expectancy for patients with hemophilia in high-income countries: a 30% disadvantage for hemophilia A and a 24% disadvantage for hemophilia B.

But life expectancy is often worse in poor countries. Lead author Dr. Alfonso Iorio says the link between a country’s economic status and life expectancy for patients with hemophilia is dramatic. For example, patients in low-income countries showed an estimated 93% life expectancy disadvantage. “Clearly availability of care is a critical determinant of heath outcomes,” says Dr. Iorio. “By precisely estimating hemophilia’s impact on populations, in terms of the number of people it affects and the degree to which it lowers life expectancy, our study shows there are still large gaps to fill in improving hemophilia care.”

To learn more about the study, read our Research Unit.


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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Funding awarded to research and education innovators


Thursday, April 02, 2020 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Through the BloodTechNet Award Program, Canadian Blood Services supports the development of innovative educational projects that network the transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation communities in Canada.

Congratulations to the recent BloodTechNet Award Program recipients:

  • Warren Fingrut (University of British Columbia) 
  • Eric Wagner (CHU de Québec-Université Laval-CHUL) 

These projects will deliver educational tools and resources that support the development of skills, knowledge and expertise of health professionals. Warren Fingrut’s project will develop an educational toolkit for health professionals about blood and stem cell donation in Canada for men who have sex with men (MSM). This toolkit will equip health professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to support stem cell drives at Pride events across Canada and engage MSM to register as stem cell donors. Eric Wagner’s project will support training of directors of histocompatibility and immunogenetics (HLA) laboratories, whose work is essential in supporting transplant activities throughout Canada.

  • Learn more about the innovative tools and resources developed through the BloodTechNet funding program here.

Through the Graduate Fellowship Program, Canadian Blood Services provides stipend support for young investigators who want to initiate or continue training in the field of transfusion science. Graduate students undertaking full-time research training in a Canadian institution are eligible. The Program provides support for a maximum of four years, with a requirement for successful renewal half way through the fellowship.

Congratulations to the recent Graduate Fellowship Program recipients:

  • Anna Ampaw (Ben lab, Ottawa, ON) 
  • Leah McMunn (Ben lab, Ottawa, ON) 
  • Melika Loriamini (Branch lab, Canadian Blood Services, Toronto, ON) 
  • Wayne Zhao (Devine lab, Canadian Blood Services, Vancouver, BC) 

Melika Loriamini and Leah McMunn are new recipients of graduate fellowships. Melika Loriamini will be investigating alternative therapies to intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), an expensive therapy derived from human plasma. Melika will be studying in the laboratory of Dr. Donald Branch, a Canadian Blood Services senior scientist. Leah McMunn’s work will focus on improving cryopreservation techniques for red blood cells. Leah will be studying in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Ben, a professor at the University of Ottawa and a Canadian Blood Services adjunct scientist.

Anna Ampaw and Wayne Zhao’s Graduate Fellowship Program awards were renewed. Anna Ampaw is also working with Dr. Robert Ben to improve red blood cell cryopreservation. Wayne Zhao is based in the laboratory of Dr. Dana Devine, Canadian Blood Services’ Chief Scientist. Wayne is investigating the cold storage of platelets. Platelets are usually stored at room temperature. Storing platelets in the cold can extend their shelf life and there is growing interest in using cold-stored platelets for certain patients (e.g. trauma patients).

To learn more about these funded research projects, visit our funded research projects page.

Both the BloodTechNet Award Program and the Graduate Fellowship Program are currently closed to applications but will re-open in Fall 2020. To learn more about the eligibility criteria for these Programs, visit our research funding opportunities page.


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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A novel microfluidic device to aid in the search for red blood cell “super-storers”


Thursday, March 26, 2020 Emel Islamzada

Donated red blood cell units are a vital component of patient care, supporting patients with a wide variety of disorders. These include severe kidney disease, hemoglobin and bleeding disorders, bone marrow failure syndromes and recovery from chemotherapy.  Some patients, like those with thalassemia and sickle cell anemia, have a lifelong dependency on blood donations. However, not all blood units are the same, and the benefit they can deliver to a patient can vary from unit to unit. Certain donors have red blood cells that will last in cold storage and in the circulation of a recipient for longer. Unfortunately, there is no method to identify these donors or predict which unit will confer maximal benefit to a particular patient after transfusion.

One factor that will affect the post-transfusion circulation time is the deformability of a red blood cell. Red blood cells are the ballerinas of the cell world, being able to fold and deform, or squeeze, through openings much smaller than their size as they travel through the vasculature delivering oxygen. The deformability of red blood cells is central to their proper function. During cold storage, the cells gradually lose their ability to deform. The cells that are less deformable won’t be able to transport oxygen efficiently and will be cleared from the recipient’s circulation shortly after transfusion. Being able to accurately measure deformability of red blood cells would allow blood operators to distinguish donors whose red blood cells have a short storage and circulation time, from the “super-storers” or donors whose red blood cells  store well in the cold and also will circulate for longer times in the recipient after transfusion.

Image
manufacture of the microfluidic ratchet device
Manufacture of the microfluidic ratchet device 

In the Multi Scale Design Lab at the Centre for Blood Research, under the supervision of Dr. Hongshen Ma, and in collaboration with Dr. Mark Scott, a Canadian Blood Services senior scientist, we have developed a unique microfluidic ratchet device that sensitively and accurately quantifies the deformability or "squeezability" of red blood cells in donated units. The device sorts red blood cells based on how well they can squeeze through a series of very small constrictions, the latter which mimic the blood vessels and small openings in the circulation. Once the cells are sorted in the device, an individual deformability curve or a “deformability signature” can be generated. This can be compared between units to see which have red blood cells that best retain their ability to deform. We aim to use this device to create an individual deformability profile of red blood cells from donated blood and predict their circulation times in the recipient.

So far, we have tested red blood cells from eight donors, and found two among them whose red blood cells are minimally affected by cold storage. Thus, the device was able to identify potential “super-storers”, i.e. donors with red blood cells that exhibit very little time-dependent changes in their deformability. We also show that the deformability profile of an individual donor stays fairly constant with repeated donations. Another very exciting finding was that all donors' red blood cells have unique deformability profiles, and very different responses to cold storage.

Image
RBCs being sorted through the device
Red blood cells being sorted through the device based on deformability 

Our study illustrates the potential of deformability-based sorting to identify those “super-storers” who have extra hardy red blood cells. Although we are excited by these findings, we appreciate that there is still a lot of work ahead to confirm our results with a much larger sample set. This will be enabled by support from the Canadian Blood Services. We are also pursuing studies with animal models to better understand the relationship between red cell deformability and post-transfusion clearance rate. 

This novel method has the potential to enable doctors to, for example, select “super-storer” units for chronic transfusion recipients.  All donated blood is valuable, and matching units to the recipients who will benefit most from them could reduce the number of total transfusions needed by these patients and increase the overall blood supply.

I thank Canadian Blood Services for supporting my graduate studies through the Graduate Student Fellowship Award. It is exciting and rewarding to be part of this research stream, and potentially help to improve blood transfusion practices in the future.

Emel conducting an experiment with the device at the Centre for Blood Research
The author conducting an experiment with the device at the Centre for Blood Research 

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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Tuesday, October 23, 2018
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Canadian Blood Services' Centre for Innovation currently has four competitive funding competitions open for applications. All close on November 30, 2018. Read on to see if you or any of your colleagues or students are eligible for these exciting opportunities! Canadian Blood Services' Graduate...


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For the latest edition of “Meet the researcher”, Fennie Easton van der Graaf, an undergraduate researcher at the University of British Columbia, chatted with Dr. Mark Scott, Canadian Blood Services’ senior scientist and a pioneer in immunocamouflage of cells to prevent their detection by the immune system.

Fibrinogen replacement products: how do they stack up against each other?


Thursday, March 12, 2020 Tricia Abe

For patients who have cardiac surgery, the risk of severe blood loss is high if they have a condition called acquired hypofibrinogenemia — this means they have an undersupply of an essential blood clotting protein called fibrinogen. For these patients, doctors aim to minimize bleeding by giving them a fibrinogen replacement product to restore clotting factors to normal levels — either cryoprecipitate or fibrinogen concentrate — which restores clotting factors to normal levels.

Although both products are used in hospitals around the world, not much is known about how they compare in terms of limiting blood loss and adverse reaction rates; in North America, most hospitals use cryoprecipitate while most European hospitals use fibrinogen concentrate. The primary reason European countries made this transition over a decade ago was a concern about transmitting infectious diseases to patients with cryoprecipitate, which, unlike fibrinogen concentrate, is not treated to inactivate viruses and requires 10 donors to make a single dose.

A large-scale study conducted at 11 hospitals across the country with funding support from Canadian Blood Services to the QUEST research team at the University of Toronto, compared the effectiveness of cryoprecipitate and fibrinogen concentrate in controlling post-operative bleeding. The study’s key finding is that fibrinogen concentrate is equivalent to cryoprecipitate, the standard treatment in Canada.

Dr. Jeannie Callum
Dr. Jeannie Callum

Dr. Jeannie Callum, one of the study’s lead researchers, says the findings could have an impact on how cardiac patients are treated in Canada.

“This study shows that for hospitals where cryoprecipitate is the standard treatment for patients with acquired hypofibrinogenemia, it’s safe to switch to fibrinogen concentrate to control post-operative bleeding,” explains Dr. Callum. 

“Given the other benefits of fibrinogen concentrate — it’s a purified product, pathogen-reduced, and easier to administer — this is one more step we can take to ensure the safety of patients.”

To learn more about the study, read our Research Unit.

To see a recorded webcast of Dr. Keyvan Karkouti and Dr. Kathryn Webert discussing the impact of the study, visit https://transfusionontario.org/en/webcasts/ and select the UofT Transfusion Medicine Rounds presentation for Jan. 23, 2020.


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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Wednesday, October 10, 2018
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Our latest Centre for Innovation ResearchUnit is a collaborative effort between Centre for Innovation adjunct scientist, Dr. Jelena Holovati, and Canadian Blood Services scientists, Dr. Donald Branch and Dr. Jason Acker. For patients with rare blood types, we perform cross-matching tests to match...


Thursday, February 28, 2019
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Thursday, January 24, 2019
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

In this study, Dr. William Sheffield and Craig Jenkins from the Centre for Innovation tested levels and activities of important plasma factors for coagulation in recovered plasma. They found that the way in which plasma is manufactured from whole blood impacts the composition of recovered plasma.

Why you won’t get COVID-19 from a blood transfusion


Tuesday, March 10, 2020 Catherine Lewis

COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory virus, with potential to infect the digestive system as well. People can get infected when they inhale or ingest the virus, but not via a blood transfusion.

“There is absolutely no evidence of transfusion transmission for COVID-19, or any other coronavirus,” says Dr. Steven Drews, associate director of microbiology at Canadian Blood Services. “This family of respiratory viruses just doesn’t appear to be transfusion-transmitted.”

This also applies to other coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and the unrelated influenza viruses.

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Testing Hands

How viruses work

Viruses need to find host cells, which they invade and use to replicate themselves. Once they’ve invaded, they use the cell’s infrastructure to copy their genetic instructions and create new virus particles, called virions, which then break out of the host cell to repeat the cycle.

Viruses rely on “binding sites” on their host cells, proteins which allow them to attach and invade. The binding sites for the COVID-19 virus are located in the respiratory tract, especially the lower lung, and the digestive system.There is no evidence this new coronavirus targets blood cells, or even uses plasma to move around and invade other organs.

Why COVID-19 can’t be transmitted by blood

Blood cells don’t have the binding sites the COVID-19 virus is looking for. The virus is focused on attacking the respiratory and digestive systems.

Tests for COVID-19 aren’t blood tests, they’re tests for viral genetic material done on respiratory specimens such as a throat swab or sputum sample. These tests may be supported by medical imaging, as well as by looking at symptoms.

Based on what we know now, the odds of receiving blood from an infected donor are miniscule

Since late January, Canadian Blood Services has been collecting data daily and using it to inform advanced modelling to make the best decisions in response to COVID-19.

Every seven to 10 days, or as our knowledge changes, we run models to look at the likelihood of collecting blood from a donor infected with the virus.

“Based on our models, there’s an extremely low chance we’d collect blood from an infected person,” says Dr. Drews.

By extremely low, he means extremely low.

“Based on very conservative estimates we’ve done, we’re looking at odds of one in 100 million chance of collecting a blood donation containing the virus,” he says.

This is partly because the donor would have to be asymptomatic, so carrying the virus without suffering from it. Our travel-related eligibility criteria limits donation during the time when someone may have the virus but not know it.

In conclusion, there’s zero evidence the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted by blood, and even so, at this point the odds of us collecting blood from an infected individual are at worst one in 100 million. So, there’s one less thing to worry about while you scrupulously wash your hands.


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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"The ever-present need for innovative ways to combat dengue and other emerging viruses and pathogens has never been clearer."


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Thursday, February 14, 2019
Ross FitzGerald

As part of a larger ongoing effort to develop non-invasive technologies to monitor blood products during storage, researchers have developed a new technique to assess the quality of blood without breaching the sterility of blood bags.

Lay Science Writing Competition winner: Is TACO best eliminated with Lasix (TACO-BEL)?


Monday, February 24, 2020 Dr. Aditi Khandelwal

On my wedding day, my grandmother was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. Unfortunately, patients over the age of 50 years old (and especially those over 70 years old), such as my grandmother, have higher needs for support with blood products. Older patients are also more vulnerable to the side effects of transfusion. My husband and I went to get my grandmother’s blessings immediately after getting married. Here, we faced an interesting challenge. I witnessed a fellow physician attempting to get my grandmother’s permission for a blood transfusion. I found myself torn between being a compliant family member and a physician, trying not to be too critical of my well-meaning colleagues. I realized that the discussion never mentioned a risk for Transfusion Associated Cardiac Overload (TACO). Since TACO is the most common serious side effect of transfusion, accounting for 32% of transfusion associated deaths, I felt that I must ask the doctors caring for my grandmother to consider the risk when administering the transfusion. Being elderly, with lung problems, I knew my grandmother was at a high risk of TACO. I asked if the prescribing doctor could use a medication called Lasix. Experts recommend use of Lasix to help the blood vessels adjust to the sudden increase in volume of fluid as well as help remove extra fluid. The doctors caring for my grandmother agreed with my suggestions. On more rigorous search of existing studies, however, I realized that there were no randomized controlled studies (RCT) to support this common practice.  

A year later, my supervisors conducted the first pilot RCT, called TACO BEL, to determine whether a large trial assessing the effectiveness of Lasix in TACO prevention is possible. Subsequently, I completed a feasibility study to look at ten large hospitals across Canada and determine whether we can meet the recruitment goals to rigorously test our theory.  

My study has shown that a larger RCT will be possible. It will take 18 months to reach our recruitment targets. At the 10 hospitals, we found that 11969 red cell units were transfused over 1 month. Based on review of patient charts, we estimate that the 10 sites will be able to identify 858 eligible patients per month. Only 20% of eligible patients agreed to participate in the pilot study. Even with this low rate of consent, we can recruit 172 participants per month. We also found that a quarter of the eligible participants had a history of heart failure which is an important risk factor for TACO. Also, a quarter of the patients were prescribed Lasix. During this review, 3 (5.3%) cases of TACO were reported. This rate is slightly higher than expected from previous pilot study.  

Over time, the use of Lasix before transfusion has increased. Soon, we hope to perform a large RCT to test if Lasix does indeed help prevent TACO and help make transfusion safer for our patients, family and friends. 

1.	Dr. Aditi Khandelwal and her late grandmother, Prabha Rani Khandelwal on July 3, 2017.
Dr. Aditi Khandelwal and her late grandmother, Prabha Rani Khandelwal on July 3, 2017.

About the winner 

Dr. Aditi Khandelwal completed medical school at McGill University, and Internal Medicine and Adult Hematology training at University of Toronto. She is now a Transfusion Medicine trainee at Canadian Blood Services, based at University of Toronto. She is also a M.Sc student in Systems Leadership and Innovation, at Dalla Lana IHPME, University of Toronto. Her clinical and research interests are promoting women's health, peri-procedural hemostasis and transfusion safety. Currently, she is completing research projects supervised by Dr. Matt Yan, Dr. Michelle Zeller, Dr. Chantale Pambrun, Sylvia Torrance, Dr. Jeannie Callum, Dr. Jacob Pendergrast, Dr. Lani Lieberman and Dr. Gwen Clarke.  

The 2019-2020 Canadian Blood Services Lay Science Writing Competition was organized by the Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation with welcome support from Science Borealis and the Centre for Blood Research at the University of British Columbia. 


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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Thursday, February 20, 2020
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

The Centre for Innovation is delighted to announce the winner of the 2019-2020 Canadian Blood Services Lay Science Writing Competition. Read on to find out who won and when you can read their heartfelt winning entry.


Tuesday, October 01, 2019
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Stories underlie all research experiences, but these stories are rarely told. The Centre for Innovation is excited to launch its second annual Lay Science Writing Competition and give our research trainees the chance to tell those stories!


Friday, April 05, 2019
Dr. Geraldine Walsh

The results of our first-ever Lay Science Writing Competition are in, read-on to discover who gets top-prize and what happens next.

Lay Science Writing Competition winner: A story worth telling


Thursday, February 20, 2020 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

After the success of last year’s inaugural Canadian Blood Services’ Lay Science Writing Competition, we couldn’t wait to do it again!  

The Centre for Innovation was delighted to once again partner with science communication and research leaders Science Borealis and the Centre for Blood Research at the University of British Columbia to host this competition. This time around, we asked our research trainees to send us “Stories worth telling” in the areas of blood, plasma, stem cells or organs and tissues research. We challenged them to tell us about the people behind the research, the impact of the work, the journey, and the emotional highs and lows. The winning entry did not disappoint.  

Congratulations to our 2019-2020 winner, Dr. Aditi Khandelwal

Dr. Aditi Khandelwal
Dr. Aditi Khandelwal 

Dr. Khandelwal is a member of the University of Toronto Quality in Utilization, Education and Safety in Transfusion (QUEST) research program, which receives funding support from Canadian Blood Services (Transfusion Medicine Research Program Support Award). Dr. Khandelwal wins a $300 cash prize and the honour of being our 2019-2020 winner. 

Dr. Khandelwal’s winning entry is a moving story that describes how her research and professional life intersected with her personal life during an emotional moment. Intrigued? We’ll publish Dr. Khandelwal's winning entry here on R.E.D. blog next week Don't miss it! 

Winners of previous Lay Science Writing Competitions 

The winning entry and runners up in last year’s Lay Science Writing Competition were also published on R.E.D. blog. You can find them here: 

The 2019-2020 Canadian Blood Services Lay Science Writing Competition was organized by the Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation with welcome support from Science Borealis and the Centre for Blood Research at the University of British Columbia.


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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Thursday, April 18, 2019
Dr. Jennie Haw

Dr. Jennie Haw's prize-winning entry in our Lay Science Writing Competition describes research underway to optimize cord blood donor recruitment for the national, public cord blood bank.


Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Lily Park

Lily Park’s entry was awarded 2nd place in our Lay Science Writing Competition. It describes research by a group at The Ottawa Hospital to improve patient outcomes following liver surgery, while reducing blood loss and the need for blood transfusion.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Heather VanderMeulen

Red blood cells are like delivery trucks that deliver oxygen to the vital organs in our body. Iron is the flatbed of the truck which holds the oxygen in place. Our body loses iron when we lose blood, and women are at the highest risk for low iron since blood is lost monthly during childbearing years. Dr. Heather VanderMeulen’s joint 3rd place entry to our Lay Science Writing Competition dissects these issues.

Nominations now open for the 2020 Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award


Tuesday, February 18, 2020 Dr. Geraldine Walsh

Recipients of the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award are individuals whose landmark contributions are recognized as both extraordinary and world class in the field of transfusion or transplantation medicine, stem cell or cord blood research in Canada and/or abroad.

Who can be nominated?

To be nominated for the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award, an individual must have contributed significantly to improving the safety and/or quality of blood, blood products, stem cells and/or cord blood or has made noteworthy improvements or advances in transfusion or transplantation medicine practice. Their record of publication should be of significance and their professional reputation should be aligned with the goals and reputation of Canadian Blood Services, reflecting a quality culture driven by excellence.

Be inspired by past recipients

Typically, there is only one recipient of the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award each year, but in 2019 two outstanding innovators were recognized. Dr. Donna Wall was honoured for her medical career spanning almost 40 years during which she made significant contributions to the evolution of blood and marrow transplantation across North America. Transplant physician and scientist Dr. Harold Atkins was honoured for his career dedicated to discovering innovative methods for stem cell transplantation.

The 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented on September 21, 2020 in Ottawa at the annual national Honouring Canada’s Lifeline event where Canadian Blood Services honours donors, volunteers, peer recruiters and partners for their outstanding dedication and achievements.

To learn about past recipients of the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award, and other awardees at the Honouring Canada's Lifeline annual ceremony, click here.

Nomination requirements
  • Provide a short introduction and summary in 150 words or less of the nominee’s contribution to improving the safety and/or quality of blood, blood products or stem cells, or contribution to advances in transfusion medicine practice
  • Present a brief biography including academic, research, clinical and administrative positions, awards or recognitions
  • Outline how the work of the nominee is set apart from the work of others in the field
  • Provide a nominee’s full current curriculum vitae and contact information for the nominee including full name, mailing address, telephone number(s) and email address
  • Provide name and contact information for the nominator(s)

Candidates should be unaware that they have been nominated for this award.

Process for nominations

To nominate an individual for the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award, please submit in writing to:

Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award Nominating Committee
c/o Dr. Isra Levy, Vice President, Medical Affairs and Innovation
Canadian Blood Services
1800 Alta Vista Drive

Ottawa, Ontario K1G 4J5

isra.levy@blood.ca

Nominations must be received by May 19, 2020.

More information

The Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award came into existence in 2002. To date, the Canadian Blood Services Board of Directors has selected the following individuals for this prestigious award:

  • Dr. John Bowman, 2002
  • Ms. Marie Cutbush Crookston, 2002
  • Dr. Morris A. Blajchman, 2003
  • Dr. Peter Pinkerton, 2004
  • Dr. John Freedman, 2006
  • Dr. Hans Messner, 2007
  • Mr. Justice Horace Krever, 2008
  • Dr. Gail Rock, 2009
  • Dr. Victor Blanchette, 2010
  • Dr. Allen Eaves and Dr. Connie Eaves, 2011
  • Dr. Celso Bianco, 2012
  • The Canadian Hemophilia Society, 2013
  • Dr. John Dossetor, 2013
  • Dr. Gershon Growe, 2014
  • Dr. Bruce McManus, 2015
  • Dr. David Lillicrap, 2016
  • Nancy Heddle, Leah Hollins 2017
  • André Picard, 2018
  • Dr. Harold Atkins and Dr. Donna Wall, 2019

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.

ShareTweetShare

Related blog posts


Friday, September 27, 2019
Catherine Lewis

With a medical career spanning almost 40 years, Dr. Donna Wall has made significant contributions to the evolution of blood and marrow transplantation across North America. After completing paediatric and paediatric hematology/oncology training in the U.S., Dr. Wall went on to establish blood and...


Thursday, September 26, 2019
Catherine Lewis

With a focus on improving the lives of patients living with autoimmune diseases, transplant physician and scientist Dr. Harold Atkins has dedicated his career to discovering innovative methods for stem cell transplantation. In the late 1990s, Dr. Atkins and neurologist Dr. Mark Freedman proposed a...


Monday, May 13, 2019
Obinna Okwelume

Recipients of the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award are individuals whose landmark contributions are recognized as both extraordinary and world class in the field of transfusion or transplantation medicine, stem cell or cord blood research in Canada and/or abroad.