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WE’RE
INNOVATION
LEADERS

Innovation has always been an important aspect of our work. We encourage groundbreaking research and the dissemination of potentially standard-setting practices, both within Canada’s blood system and throughout the global health-care community. Last year our researchers published more than 250 papers in influential peer-reviewed journals, along with 23 technical reports focusing on product and process improvement.

Through our centre for innovation, we focus our efforts on three key areas: transfusion and transplantation medicine research, product and process development and knowledge mobilization. Highlights from the past year’s efforts include improving collaboration around the utilization of blood products and clinical trials of new pathogen reduction methods. In all of our innovation efforts, the fundamental goal is the same: to deliver appropriate products and services promptly to the patients who need them — and only if they need them.

FOCAL POINT:  MSM POLICY PROGRESS
FOCAL POINT:  MSM POLICY PROGRESS

In July 2013 — following formal approval from our regulator, Health Canada — Canadian Blood Services introduced updated eligibility criteria related to blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM). The updated criteria reduced the deferral period from indefinite ineligibility to five years since the last MSM experience. This is the first in what we expect will be a series of incremental changes.

Over the past year we’ve held public consultations with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit and queer (LGBTTQ) communities, focusing on Pride activities in Toronto, London and Vancouver. Through information booths and special events such as the rainbow blood donor clinic in Vancouver, as well as “ally” clinics (where people who are ineligible to donate themselves bring friends who are eligible to donate on their behalf), we gathered valuable insights and deepened mutual understanding, knowledge and trust.

In the fall of 2014 we conducted a survey to gauge the impact of the new policy on community stakeholders, active donors and the general public. Opinions about the five-year ineligibility period for MSM were largely positive. Moreover, the lack of any increase in HIV rates during the first year suggests that safety levels remained stable. We are engaged in discussions, within Canada and globally, about other potential changes to the eligibility criteria. As always, we’re progressing step by step, upholding safety as our number one priority while trying to ensure that the policy is no more restrictive than necessary to achieve that aim.

Dr. Yulia Lin

Dr. Yulia Lin, from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, completed her transfusion medicine residency supported by funding from Canadian Blood Services. She, like many Canadian leaders in transfusion medicine, benefited from our program and is now engaged in leading practices and education programs that promote safe and effective transfusion practice across Canada.