Set within the idyllic grounds of Vancouver’s University of British Columbia campus is one of Canadian Blood Services’ smallest blood donor clinics.

But what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in importance. This clinic is at the Network Centre for Applied Development (netCAD), where blood is collected weekly from donors to be used for research and development.

“The impact these donors have on the future of the blood system and patient care cannot be overstated,” says Janet McManus, netCAD manager.

Blood donor Robyn Sussel has been giving blood at netCAD for more than 10 years.

“When I heard that I could not donate [for transfusion use], I took it very hard,” says Robyn. “However, I was lucky enough to have one of the nurses tell me about netCAD. I love supporting research that improves the blood production process. Making that process more efficient is just as rewarding as giving blood in the regular system.”

The centre is integral to the continuous improvement of Canada’s blood system. Just two of netCAD’s many current projects are a study on the best way to handle blood intended for newborn babies, and another on how to cut down on the time it takes to collect and process each unit of blood in Canada.

“Research conducted at netCAD is about improving the quality of products given to patients while being good stewards of scarce Canadian health-care dollars,” says Janet.

The centre provides information to Canadian Blood Services’ own production and manufacturing groups and also plays an important role in advancing transfusion medicine across Canada and around the world, providing research services and blood products to a wide range of scientists, groups and companies.

One such company is Vancouver-based LightIntegra Technology Inc. The company developed ThromboLUX, a unique technology that tests the quality of platelet products.

“Research donations allow us to make excellent progress in technology development without reducing the platelet supply for patients,” says Dr. Elisabeth Maurer, president and chief technology officer of LightIntegra.

While netCAD boasts a small group of dedicated donors who give blood regularly, the centre has an ongoing need for more donors.

“We believe we could double the number of projects supported with more donors. This means more knowledge, faster innovation, better products and lower costs, in less time,” says Janet.

Blood donors, like Robyn, who are ineligible to donate blood for transfusion may be able to donate at netCAD.

If you live in the Vancouver area and would like to donate blood for research, please call 604-221-5515 or send an email to

Photography by Janet McManus