Graham's Corner

Welcome to the winter/spring issue of Pulse magazine.

With Canada’s current health accord set to expire in 2014, Canadian Blood Services is playing an active role in contributing to the national conversation on this vitally important topic. As a pan-Canadian organization, touching multiple aspects of the Canadian health care system, we are an integral partner in health care. Since one in two Canadians say they have either known someone who has needed blood or themselves needed blood, we are a significant player in saving and improving lives.

Since 1998 when Canadian Blood Services was created in response to the tainted blood tragedy, we have regained the trust of Canadians through an ongoing commitment to accountable, safe and transparent business practices.

In our organization’s infancy, governments invested heavily to fix a broken system. Those investments delivered stability, improved safety and restored trust. In recent years, governments have recognized Canadian Blood Services’ success and what we can offer to other areas of health care.

One has to look no further than our five-year mandate in organ and tissue donation and transplantation (OTDT). Organs and tissues, unlike most aspects of the health care system which can be managed provincially, need to be shared across provinces. Based on our experience as the only national health care service provider, we have been asked to work with the OTDT community to improve performance in this area.

So far, we have successfully delivered a national Living Donor Paired Exchange (LDPE) registry and are in the process of developing the National Organ Waitlist and the Highly Sensitized Patient registry. The LDPE is a registry that facilitates living kidney donations between those with a willing but incompatible donor and another pair in the same situation. It was launched in January of 2009. In October, 2011, the registry celebrated its 100th successful transplant.

In April 2011, Canadian Blood Services submitted an integrated strategic plan on behalf of the OTDT community that provides a set of 25 recommendations focused on significantly improving system performance in this country. The plan describes the immense advances that are possible when provinces come together, as they have for the registries. These recommendations are currently with the deputy ministers of health for review.

As well, we are launching a national public umbilical cord blood bank, an initiative we’ve been working towards for the last several years. This bank, targeting Canada’s ethnically diverse population, is being developed and managed by the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. It will provide patients with greater access to cord blood units, a rich source of stem cells needed for patients suffering from life-threatening diseases.

The creation and continued evolution of Canadian Blood Services remains a bold model for health care; a service provider national in scope, federally regulated, nationally managed and provincially funded.

It is time to leverage what we’ve learned and the benefits achieved, by sharing our knowledge and experience in other areas of health care.

It’s time for us to take what we have learned and pay it forward for all Canadians.