Canadian Blood Services

Canadian Blood Services board meeting open to the public

Friday, December 01, 2017

(OTTAWA) –  On Dec. 7, Canadian Blood Services will open its doors physically and virtually, by live streaming its open board meeting at, and inviting the public to attend in person in Ottawa.   

Twice each year, members of the public are invited to participate in open board meetings.  They have the opportunity to hear about the organization’s work, deliver presentations to the board, and meet with members of the board and the management team.

Since its creation in 1998, Canadian Blood Services has been committed to operating in an open, transparent, and collaborative manner.  

WHO:           Dr. Graham Sher, CEO, Canadian Blood Services, and members of the Executive Management Team
                     Leah Hollins, Chair of the Board of Directors, and members of the Board of Directors 

WHEN:         Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017
                     8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST

WHERE:      Canadian Blood Services
                    1800 Alta Vista Dr

Live-stream available at

About Canadian Blood Services                 

Canadian Blood Services manages the national supply of blood, blood products and stem cells, and related services for all the provinces and territories (excluding Quebec). We operate an integrated, pan-Canadian service delivery model that includes leading an interprovincial system for organ donation and transplantation. Our national scope, infrastructure and governance make us unique in the Canadian healthcare landscape. Canadian Blood Services is regulated as a biologics manufacturer by Health Canada and primarily funded by the provincial and territorial ministries of health. Canadian Blood Services is a not-for-profit charitable organization.


Open Letter to the Honourable Commissioner Judge Horace Krever (retired)

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Justice Krever,

On behalf of all of our employees at Canadian Blood Services, as well as the many donors, volunteers and countless individuals whose lives have been touched by Canada’s national blood system, it’s my privilege to offer you our collective thanks. Your remarkable contribution to health care in this country is felt to this day. 

It has been 20 years, and much has changed. Yet the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada remains an invaluable benchmark for Canadian Blood Services and other blood operators around the globe. Your vision for a national, accountable, public blood service, laid the groundwork for the organization I’m humbled and proud to lead. In my collaborations with our international counterparts, your report is still considered the blueprint for blood systems worldwide.

Over the years, I’ve been asked many times whether the contaminated blood crisis could happen again. Are we immune from the conditions that once crippled the blood system causing harm to so many? It is a question that continually prompts me to think about those aspects of our current system that are most likely to mitigate against a repeat of the past.  It is the reason we strive to maintain clear governance accountabilities, including the appropriate arm’s-length relationship between funder and operator; transparency; public participation in our decision-making; and a relentless focus on safety, quality and security of supply, among others. 

In the 1980s and 1990s, Canadians lost faith in the public health system. Your report gave us the necessary blocks to rebuild their trust, and the wherewithal to prevent a tragedy of this magnitude from happening again. The emphasis we place on trust within our corporate culture and mission compels us to continue to earn it every day.  

Your contribution to Canadian health care is nothing short of monumental, and it must never be forgotten. Sadly, an entire generation is largely unaware of the extent to which the system failed, and perhaps more significantly, why and how it has been rebuilt. In a recent poll conducted by Ipsos on our behalf, fewer than half of Canadian respondents indicated some level of awareness of the Krever Inquiry and its findings.

Whenever I am involved in orienting new employees at Canadian Blood Services, I insist on beginning with a discussion of your work. It is a knowledge those entrusted to manage the system must have, and which must be kept at the centre of our work, no matter how remote we may seem to be from the years of the contaminated blood crisis. The cost of not doing so is simply too high, and the potential consequences are unacceptable. 

I appreciate the dialogue sparked by those who dare to ask: “How certain are we that today’s system is less likely to fail the patients whose lives and health depend on it?” Guided by your report, we have made many changes over the past two decades to safeguard the system for Canadians. I am confident the system we have today is more robust, agile and capable of detecting and averting threats than ever before.

While I do offer the assurances above, we must continue to be vigilant in managing a safe, secure and accessible supply of blood and blood products. We must strike the right balance between collaboration and independence in our relationships with a range of stakeholders across the country. This is how we will keep your legacy at the core of why we come to work every day.  

You have my thanks and personal commitment to keeping this legacy top of mind. 




Dr. Graham D. Sher
Chief Executive Officer 
Canadian Blood Services

As published by The Hill Times, Nov. 22 2017.


Expert guidance informs process for supporting grieving families

Monday, November 06, 2017

First ever Canadian guidelines for pediatric deceased donation published 

(OTTAWA) – Canadian Guidelines for Controlled Pediatric Donation after Circulatory Determination of Death (pDCD) have recently been released. A summary report of these guidelines was published today in the journal Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.

In the absence of any national or international guidelines specifically addressing pDCD, Canadian Blood Services launched an initiative as part of its role in clinical practice guideline development, and provided expertise, project management and funding. The guideline development team, led by Dr. Matthew Weiss, created and released rigorously developed national clinical practice guidelines specifically for this practice.

Dr. Weiss, a pediatric intensivist working at Centre mère-enfant Soleil du CHU de Québec – Université Laval and a medical director in organ donation with Transplant Quebec, was inspired to help drive this initiative by a tragic case where donation was not possible for a family at his hospital.

“It all started with a patient and a family I cared for in 2013. As it became obvious that the child was not going to survive her illness, the father asked if she could provide organs to help others in need.” Dr. Weiss explains. “At the time, we did not have the infrastructure or the expertise to support pediatric donation after circulatory death, and I was forced to say no. Witnessing the disappointment that family suffered being denied the opportunity to bring some sense to their loss through donation motivated me to work with Canadian Blood Services to develop these guidelines. The goal of everyone on our project team was to ensure access to this type of donation for children and their families across Canada.” 

The project team included representatives from pediatric intensive care units and neonatal intensive care units across the country, along with the Canadian Pediatric Society, Canadian Blood Services, Canadian Society for Transplantation, Canadian Critical Care Society, and the Canadian Association of Critical Care Nurses, united to work on this initiative. It was a lengthy process that began in October 2014 involving broad stakeholder input from clinical experts within the organ donation community across Canada.

“Very few countries have pediatric specific guidelines, most use or integrate parts of the adult process when dealing with children. This initiative was in response to a need expressed by the critical care community. They were specifically interested in guidelines that would help inform their approach with families that were based on dealing with children and sensitive to the needs of grieving families, and having a donor family member review the guidelines was critically important,” says Amber Appleby, associate director of deceased donation at Canadian Blood Services.

Jennifer Woolfsmith, whose daughter Mackenzy donated her heart, kidneys and liver in 2012, brought the patient family perspective, providing valuable insight from a parents’ point of view.

“This work will give families who are faced with this kind of tragedy more opportunity to choose organ donation, and that is so important to me,” says Jennifer. “Knowing my daughter continues to impact the world through donation brings me so much comfort. So, it truly was my honour to contribute by reviewing these guidelines with the hope of giving other parents this option to bring purpose and meaning to the experience of losing their child.”

In practice, these recommendations will offer the meaningful possibility of organ donation to families experiencing the loss of a child and lead to increased organ donation, providing hope to children waiting for life-saving transplants. The guidelines themselves may also serve as a model for future clinical practice guidelines in deceased donation.

Read the Summary Report published in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine along with the complete Canadian guidelines for controlled pediatric donation after circulatory determination of death.

Quick facts:
  • The guidelines include 63 Good Practice Statements, 7 recommendations including ethics, consent and withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy, eligibility, death determination
  • These guidelines are the first national level guidelines to focus exclusively on the pediatric aspects of DCD
  • In adults, DCD is the fastest growing form of organ donation, full implementation of pDCD in Canadian pediatric hospitals could substantially increase the number of potential donors and transplants
  • Dr. Matthew Weiss is Medical Director – Organ Donation at Transplant Quebec. He is a pediatric intensivist working at Centre mère-enfant Soleil du CHU de Québec – Université Laval, where he also served as medical specialist coordinator in organ and tissue donation. Dr. Weiss is available for interviews.
  • Dr. Sam Shemie, Medical Advisor, Deceased Donation for Canadian Blood Services is also available for interviews.  

Canadian Blood Services launches new tool to engage young donors

Monday, June 05, 2017

New chat bot a world’s first among national blood operators

(OTTAWA) – Canadian Blood Services, together with EY, have announced a world’s first among national blood operators by introducing a chat bot to engage donors on Facebook Messenger. This new tool is another innovative effort to engage younger audiences in a lifetime of blood donation and to promote the constant need for blood.

“The chat bot is a fun and interactive tool that will attract new, young, and lifelong donors, at a time when the blood supply needs a boost to prepare for summer,” said Mark Donnison, vice-president, donor relations.

The chat bot will help users on Facebook Messenger learn more about the donation process and the people who are helped by donations. It will also encourage people to book an appointment online or through the National Contact Centre.

“We are very excited and proud to take this lead in digital engagement,” said Ralph Michaelis, chief information officer. “Developed in partnership with the digital team at EY, the chat bot is one more example of our commitment to embrace new and innovative digital technologies to reach and engage donors, whether they are new or returning.”

Donors can meet the chat bot today by messaging Canadian Blood Services’ Facebook page.

“EY is honored to collaborate with Canadian Blood Services in support of its lifesaving mission, leveraging the power of messaging platforms and conversational interfaces to reach and engage donors in new and innovative ways,” said Keith Strier, Americas AI and digital offerings leader, EY.


Graham Sher: Canadian Blood Services as a model for national pharmacare

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

National Post, Toronto ON — Imagine having to choose between putting food on the table or buying necessary medication. Research suggests this is the case for one in 10 Canadians who can’t afford to fill their prescriptions. Canada is the only country with universal health care that does not also have universal drug coverage. Even for those who do have private or public drug coverage, there are discrepancies in what and who is covered from province to province. Canadians also pay more for drugs than citizens in almost any other Western nation.

These are just a few of the arguments that have reignited calls for a national pharmacare program. It is not a new concept, but one that is gaining traction as leaders are turning over every stone to “bend the cost curve” in health care downward. In a recently published study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), health economists and researchers concluded a universal drug program could actually save Canadians billions of dollars. Great savings are achieved by pooling provincial and territorial needs and resources to increase buying power, eliminate duplication and establish a platform for collaboration and cost-sharing.

If health-care leaders are looking for proof that provinces and territories can do more together than they can on their own when it comes to the provision of life-saving and enhancing drug therapies, they need look no further than the blood system they created close to 20 years ago.

Many are aware that since its creation in 1998, Canadian Blood Services has been in the business of collecting, processing and distributing blood components in all provinces and territories outside Quebec. But few realize we have also been running a national formulary of biological drugs, providing universal and equitable access to plasma-derived medicine at no cost to patients for nearly two decades

Our organization has sole responsibility for managing a national portfolio of plasma-derived products and their synthetic alternatives worth about $500 million a year. These life-saving pharmaceuticals are used to treat people with hemophilia and other bleeding disorders, patients with inherited and acquired immune disorders, burn and trauma victims, and many others. A national, scalable, cost-shared infrastructure and logistics network ensures the right product get to the right patient, at the right time.

Our approach to managing this drug portfolio is based on best practices in public tendering. This means we provide a competitive, transparent mechanism to achieve best pricing. In fact, governments are benefiting from Canadian Blood Services’ success in negotiating an estimated $600 million in savings over five years through 2018 — a testament to the value of pan-Canadian buying power and proof of concept of one of the arguments in the CMAJ study.

Some detractors of tendering suggest it can put supply at risk by placing all the purchaser’s eggs in that one proverbial basket. However, in our process, we avoid single-sourcing whenever possible, not only to encourage competitive pricing, but to ensure security of supply. Carrying multiple brands of a product, purchasing them in smaller, diverse lots, and negotiating a dedicated and guaranteed “safety stock” are all measures we take to mitigate risks to supply disruption.

We have also focused on product choice by incorporating stakeholder (physician and patient) input where appropriate in our tendering processes. Through our medical directors, we provide expert advice when a physician has a patient-based issue that could benefit from an additional specialist perspective — added value for patients and health systems. We also independently qualify new suppliers and audit them periodically, adding another layer of vigilance and product safety for patients. We are often aware early on of supplier issues in bringing products to market or maintaining adequate Canadian supplies, which helps to mitigate the risk of shortages.

Because of our governance structure, once a plasma-derived drug is accepted in our portfolio, it becomes available in all jurisdictions. This practice effectively reduces geographic or financial barriers to care, and is consistent with the principles of universal access informing the Canada Health Act and medicare. Equitable access also encourages consistency of practice, and fosters pan-Canadian dialogue on best practices for optimal product utilization. Canadian Blood Services collaborates with health-system leaders, including governments, transfusion medicine physicians and others, to help ensure appropriate utilization and to further control costs.

By offering our experience, we are not proposing Canadian Blood Services should bulk-purchase other drugs or that our model is a “cookie cutter” solution to apply to national pharmacare, in part or in whole. Rather, we are suggesting there are important lessons from our 17 years’ experience that can be leveraged, and that a national drug program is not only possible — it is already being done, with significant benefits to patients and health system funders.

A system that ensures no Canadian patient is left unable to afford life-saving medication, while at the same time driving down system costs, is not only good politics, it’s good policy.

View article in the National Post, published on April 13, 2015 


International marrow registries together reach 25 million donor milestone

Monday, March 23, 2015

Record number of potential marrow donors gives renewed hope to blood cancer patients

Ottawa, ON—Canadian Blood Services’ stem cell registry called OneMatch is part of a network that now has a record number of people listed as potential stem cell donors. Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW) brings together an international registry of donors, and along with the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA) announced today that 25 million people worldwide are potential volunteer stem cell donors. These donors could help save the lives of people  battling multiple life-threatening diseases. This significant milestone gives greater hope to patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals around the world.

“More than 80 per cent of Canadian patients receive stem cells from donors in other countries. At any given time, close to 1000 Canadian patients are waiting for a stem cell transplant,” said Canadian Blood Services Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, Dr. Dana Devine. “Because our OneMatch program belongs to an international network of registries, and we are now able to provide access to 25 million donors, it really increases the odds of finding a match. With continuing support from our diverse communities here at home, and because of our ongoing work with WMDA and our international partner registries, many other patients will have opportunities to find a lifesaving match,” she said.

Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network is one of the top ten largest registries in the world and is dedicated to recruiting and finding healthy, committed volunteer donors for patients in need of stem cell transplants. Canadian Blood Services is proud to be part of the international network. Since becoming an accredited registry with the WMDA in 2006, Canadian donors have not only donated stem cell products to international patients; they have received life saving stem cells from international donors.  

BMDW was created in 1989 as a collaborative effort among eight countries and has grown to a community of 53 countries that are working together to achieve a centralized file of all potential volunteer marrow donors worldwide. This resource is crucial for patients in need of a blood stem cell transplant, because in nearly 50 percent of blood stem cell transplants, the donor and the patient come from different countries.

BMDW works closely with the WMDA—an association responsible for establishing consistent, high-quality standards for worldwide marrow donor registries—and provides a comprehensive list of potential marrow donors and donated umbilical cord blood units, primarily from WMDA member registries and cord blood banks. The BMDW global database is easily accessible to physicians to search on behalf of their patients in need of a blood stem cell transplant.

Professor Dr. Jon J. van Rood, founder of BMDW, said, “Today we celebrate a remarkable 25 million potential marrow donors on worldwide registries. Thanks to these 25 million potential volunteer donors, 250,000 patients have found their match and received an unrelated marrow transplant. But our work is not done. We need more potential donors to join registries around the world, as an equal number of patients have searched for a donor and could not find one.”

Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with a blood cancer. A marrow or cord blood transplant is a potentially life-saving treatment for more than 70 different diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease. Other diseases include aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, inherited immune deficiency disorders and inherited metabolic disorders.

Michael Boo, J.D., president of WMDA, was thrilled to announce the milestone. “We are so grateful for the millions of people around the world who have volunteered to be the cure. Every person who has joined a marrow donor registry moves us closer to finding a marrow donor for every patient in need,” said Boo. “Our goal as a global community is to continue to grow this inventory of donors and cord blood units by adding more than one million potential volunteer marrow donors and cord blood units from an increasing number of countries each year,” continued Boo.

The importance of adding more potential marrow donors and cord blood units to the worldwide registries is underscored by the constantly increasing use of transplants as a treatment for a wider range of diseases. An exponential rise in all types of blood stem cell transplants, particularly from unrelated donors, has occurred since the first successful unrelated transplant in 1973. U.K.-based Anthony Nolan, the world’s first marrow donor registry, began recruiting potential volunteer marrow donors in 1974. Today, unrelated transplants are often as successful as those that use sibling donors.

The BMDW global database provides a unique service to transplant centres and registries searching on behalf of patients from around the world who are trying to find the best match for patients in need of a life-saving blood stem cell or marrow transplant and who do not have a matching sibling. By providing a single registry for listing all available adult volunteer marrow donors and cord blood units, it provides a quick and thorough search service, reporting on whether and where a good match can be found. In 2014, over 225,000 search requests were made for patients in need of a blood stem cell transplant.


About BMDW

To find the best matched donor for a patient, the first step is to look into BMDW, the global database, where all potential donors and cord blood units are listed. The database is available for physicians who can quickly look and determine within a few minutes if there is chance for a match for their patients.

BMDW is operated by Europdonor Foundation, a Dutch nonprofit organization. For more information, visit:


About WMDA

Worldwide, over 50,000 patients per year are looking for a matched donor outside their family.

Nearly 50% of the patients that find a donor find his or her perfectly matched donor in another country. WMDA works towards a global standardization by establishing an accreditation programme for registries. The accreditation programme ensures that organizations protect the welfare of the donors and high-quality stem cells for patients worldwide.

WMDA is an international association. To learn more, visit:



Agreement ratified between Canadian Blood Services and OPSEU

Friday, January 30, 2015

(Ottawa, ON) – Canadian Blood Services is pleased to announce that support employees in Ontario, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), have voted to ratify the agreement recently reached between the two parties. 

“We would like to thank our many partners, volunteers, donors and employees across the country that have supported us during this time,” said Ian Mumford, chief supply chain officer, Canadian Blood Services. 

As always, the need for blood never stops and we encourage donors to continue their ongoing support of the blood system to help maintain an adequate supply of blood and blood products for Canadian patients.

To book an appointment today, download the GiveBlood app, visit or call 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236 6283).




Let us reassure you, the Canadian blood system is safe

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

At Canadian Blood Services, safety is and always will be our top priority. When our record on safety is challenged, as it was in a union-sponsored newspaper ad and YouTube video, we have an obligation to respond. Let us reassure you, the Canadian blood system is safe.

While Canadian Blood Services did not exist during the tainted blood tragedy, we learned valuable lessons from this history that guide our decision-making. Canada’s blood system is vastly different than it was during the 1980s and 90s and is now one of the safest in the world.

Today, we operate in an open and transparent manner by consulting with the public and stakeholders (medical professionals, patient groups and international partners) to help us make evidence-based decisions and ensure that patient needs come first. We have rigorous screening and tracking systems, and use state-of-the-art technology to test and process blood products. As a result of the dedication of our employees, volunteers, donors, stakeholders and other partners, we have maintained the trust and confidence of Canadians in their blood system. We also strive to provide better value by delivering safe, high-quality products and services.

The timing of today’s advertisement coincides with active labour negotiations between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and Canadian Blood Services. We are continuing to negotiate with OPSEU and hope to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. Since we are in negotiations, we are not able to speak to the details of a potential agreement; however, our goal remains to maintain the safety and reliability of Canada’s blood system.

Should a labour disruption occur, the inventory of blood products will decrease and patients across Canada will be affected. However, as responsible stewards of the blood system, we have built contingency plans to meet the needs of Canadian patients to the greatest extent possible. Having these plans in place, is a part of our ongoing commitment to manage a safe and secure blood system.