Donation policy and studies group at CSTM 2022

Tuesday, July 26, 2022 Dr. Niamh Caffrey

Was this your first time attending CSTM 2022?  

I joined Canadian Blood Services in the middle of the pandemic. The opportunity to attend CSTM 2022 was not only my first time attending a CSTM meeting, but also my first time meeting in person with my direct supervisor, Sheila O’Brien, and other colleagues that I have worked with over the past 18 months.  

What research did you present at the meeting? 

I presented two poster presentations and one oral presentation at the conference.  

The oral presentation was called ‘Examining Medication use in Canadian Blood Donors’ and was based on a project undertaken by a student in our group, Owen Miller. We described our findings about medication use self-reported by donors when they fill out the Donor Health Questionnaire. The results indicate that we may be able to improve the administrative aspects of recording donor data on medication use for donors who return to donate again.  

One of the poster presentations used the medication dataset prepared by Owen Miller to assess the impact of a recent change we made to eligibility criteria for donors with type 1 diabetes’. We compared the rate of moderate and severe faint reactions between non-diabetic donors and diabetic donors, who recently became eligible to donate. The results indicate that the change in policy has not resulted in an increased risk of adverse reactions for these donors.  

The second poster I presented described results of our ongoing surveillance of syphilis positive blood donors at Canadian Blood Services. I also attended an ad hoc meeting with colleagues from Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec at which we discussed the role of the blood services in public health. There, I presented our plan for monitoring transfusion transmissible infections after we implement sexual behaviour-based screening for donors this fall.  

Learn more!

Read these past R.E.D. blog posts to learn more about the work the donation policy and studies group does to support evolving donor eligibility criteria: 

What were the contributions of others from the donation policy and studies group to the conference program? 

The donation policy & studies group, which is led by associate director, Dr. Mindy Goldman, was very well represented among both the oral and poster presentations at the conference. Our oral presentations covered a diverse range of topics, from vector-borne pathogens (Dr. Steven Drews), COVID-19 (Dr. Sheila O’Brien) to exploring policies for donors with medical conditions and the collection of ethnicity data from our donors (Dr. Mindy Goldman). Dr. Mindy Goldman and Dr. Jennie Haw were also members of a panel that discussed ‘Evolving blood donation policies: sexual and gender diverse donors’ as part of one of the plenary sessions of the conference.  

The topics covered among the poster presentations included barriers to blood donation among donors of African ancestry (Haw), commercialization of plasma donation in Canada (Dr. Kelly Holloway), adverse donor reactions during COVID-19 (Goldman), planning relating to the implementation of a new serology test platform, and an evaluation of unconfirmed syphilis positive test results during influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations campaigns (Drews).  

What talk did you find most interesting talk at CSTM 2020? 

The talk that sticks out most in my mind was given by Mai Duong on the Saturday morning of the conference. Mai Duong spoke in the “Advancing equity, diversity and inclusion for donors” plenary session. She shared a heartfelt and moving account of her experience with an illness that required her to need stem cell treatment, and the difficulties her ethnic background posed in finding a match. Mai started an organization called “Swab the World” which aims to increase numbers and, most importantly, diversity in the stem cell donor registry and aid health professionals with finding donor matches.   

Finally, an in-person meeting and being in rooms with actual people – good or bad? 

My overall view on being in a room with actual people – good! The opportunity for networking in an in-person environment is very beneficial. It was nice to connect with colleagues without the ‘5 minutes left in your meeting’ warning! I also connected with others in the organization that I will look forward to seeing again at future conferences. As this was my first time attending a transfusion medicine conference, I learned a lot about aspects of transfusion medicine that I do not consider within my own role and so it was a very positive and informative experience. I was delighted with the opportunity to showcase our research to this Canadian transfusion medicine audience. 

List of Donation Policy & Studies contributions to CSTM 2022: 

Poster presentations: 

  1. Trends in detection of Treponema pallidium (Syphilis) among whole blood donors at Canadian Blood Services – Niamh Caffrey 
  2. Assessment of Impact of Change in Eligibility Criteria for Donors With Type 1 Diabetes – Niamh Caffrey 
  3. Planning for elevated transmissible diseases serology repeat reactive rates following implementation of a new serology test platform – Steven Drews 
  4. Increases in unconfirmed syphilis repeat reactive serology results during influenza and COVID-19 vaccination campaigns: September 2017-January 2022 – Steven Drews 
  5. Donor faint reactions and injuries during the COVID-19 pandemic – Mindy Goldman 
  6. Barriers to blood donation for young adults of African ancestry in Canada – Jennie Haw 
  7. Plasma donors, payment and the emerging commercial plasma sector in Canada – Kelly Holloway 

Oral presentations: 

  1. Plenary Session - Evolving blood donation policies: Sexual and gender diverse donors - Mindy Goldman, Jennie Haw, Terrie Foster, Don Lapierre 
  2. Understanding the impact of vector-borne pathogens on the safety of the blood supply in Canada - Steven Drews 
  3. Examining Medication Use in Canadian Blood Donors - Niamh Caffrey 
  4. Donors with medical conditions: Canadian vs US policies. The BEST Collaborative study - Mindy Goldman  
  5. Asking donors about their ethnicity/racial group: why and how? - Mindy Goldman 
  6. SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in the vaccine era: The Canadian Blood Services Serosurvey January to November 2021 - Sheila O'Brien 

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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