The Blood conference (previously HAA) is the annual scientific meeting of the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand, Australian and New Zealand Society of Blood Transfusion and Thrombosis (ANZSBT) and the Haemostasis Society of Australia and New Zealand.
Since 2014, the ANZSBT Council has been awarding a prize sponsored by the National Blood Authority for the best oral or poster abstract with a transfusion focus presented at the Blood conference by a young investigator. To be eligible, applicants must be 35 years or less on the last day of the meeting. For the first time in October 2017, the National Blood Authority also sponsored an award for the best poster/oral presentation on Haemovigilance as judged by the ANZSBT Council. Both awards were also given in 2018 and 2019, and applications will be open again in 2020. For further information on how to apply, visit the ANZSBT website
In 2019, the recipient of the $500 Young Investigator award was Mrs Alana Delaforce, who presented her research, “Assessing transfusion practice in elective surgical patients: a baseline audit to identify opportunities for improvement”. Alana has a background in theatre nursing and now works as a quality coordinator at the Mater Hospital Brisbane. She is in the final year of her PhD, the focus of which is to investigate barriers to the implementation of patient blood management guidelines. The project aims to determine which interventions, and implementation strategies best influence the uptake of evidence based patient blood management recommendations. The published paper details one strategy used called “tailored audit and feedback”. Following an audit, the challenge was to work out how to communicate the results to prescribers, and a flowchart was developed to help augment conversations explaining recommended practice. It enables prescribers to see clearly where they can focus their improvement work to enhance the care provided to patients.
In 2019, the recipient of the $500 Best poster/oral presentation Award on haemovigilance award was Ms Debbie Pinchon for her poster “Haemovigilance in WA – what does 3 years of state-wide reporting tell us?” Debbie has worked as a nurse and a midwife in the UK and Australia has specialised in haematology, transfusion and haemovigilance for the past 19 years. She completed her MSc in Health Professional Leadership in 2007 and has published papers in international peer-reviewed journals. Previously, Debbie was responsible for the implementation of anaemia management throughout WA’s tertiary Women and Newborn Hospital, has led a large number of practice improvements in relation to patient blood management and the safe and appropriate use of blood products and its alternatives. Debbie currently works at the Western Australian Department of Health and has a particular interest in the management of transfusion reactions, haemovigilance and is passionate about improving clinical transfusion practice.
Debbie feels that the stars of the award are her colleagues, peers and the teams who continue to commit to reporting, investigating and submitting transfusion related adverse events over the years. It is their names that should be on the poster, they are fundamental to WA’s success and progress in haemovigilance.
In 2018 the recipient of the $500 Young Investigator award was Ms Alexis Perros, a research scientist at the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, Brisbane, Australia. Alexis is in the final stages of her PhD at the University of Queensland, and her main research focus is investigating immunomodulation after transfusion. Alexis presented her research, “Transfusion modulates leucocyte populations in cardiac surgery patients” in the ANZSBT Presidential Symposium, and also had two poster presentations, “Underlying inflammation influences immunoregulatory cell immune responses in a model of platelet concentrate and packed red blood cell transfusion” and “Assessment of transfusion-related immune modulation in cardiac surgery patients”. Coronary artery bypass grafting is a complex surgical procedure which triggers a systemic inflammatory response that may be exacerbated by transfusion. Alexis’ research, a collaboration between Lifeblood and The Prince Charles Hospital, found that multiple leucocyte subsets were modulated following transfusion in coronary artery bypass grafting patients. Modulation of the patient’s immune response may contribute to adverse patient outcomes, including increased rates of infection and mortality. Increasing our understanding of how transfusion and cardiac surgery modulate a patient’s immune system may help predict adverse patient outcomes.
Alexis is supervised at the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood by A/Prof Melinda Dean, Dr Helen Faddy and Prof Robert Flower and at the University of Queensland by A/Prof Stuart Kellie.
The recipient of the $500 Best poster/oral presentation Award on haemovigilance award was Ms Christine Akers, a Transfusion Nurse within the Victorian Blood Matters program. The program is a collaboration between the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood. Her award winning presentation was titled ‘Transfusion associated circulatory overload: promoting awareness and reporting’. Chris showcased the education campaign aimed at raising the awareness of transfusion associated circulatory overload (TACO) within 79 health services in Victoria for a single month in 2017. The team used a number of educational tools (available on the Blood Matters website) to raise awareness with clinical staff. The campaign resulted in an increased number of TACO notifications through the Serious Transfusion Incident Reporting (STIR) programme.
In 2017 the recipient of the $500 Young Investigator award was Dr Joanne Tan, a Research Fellow with the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood for her presentation ‘Propensity for alloantibody formation in transfusion-dependent patients’. Dr Tan’s work is an issue for the transfusion medicine community as transfusion-dependent patients who develop alloantibodies are at risk of delayed haemolytic transfusion reactions if they receive a red blood cell unit of the same antigen specificity. This means blood banking staff and Lifeblood staff need to work harder to find extended phenotype-matched red blood cells for these patients for future blood transfusions. One of the management strategies for these patients is to prevent the formation of alloantibodies in the first instance.
The recipient of the $500 Best poster/oral presentation Award on haemovigilance award was Dr Anastazia Keegan, a Consultant Haematologist and Transfusion Medicine Specialist at the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood in Western Australia. Dr Keegan has a particular interest in transfusion medicine horizon scanning, haemovigilance, major haemorrhage protocols/critical bleeding and obstetric Haematology. Dr Keegan won the award for her presentation on ‘A risk tool to mitigate severe haemolytic reactions due to high isohaemagglutinins in apheresis platelets’. Dr Keegan’s work is an issue for the transfusion medicine community as ABO haemagglutinin reactions are complex, multifactorial and likely under-reported. There is a lack of a universal ABO haemagglutinin titre technique and no nationally endorsed guidelines defining risk. Therefore, transfusion scientists and clinicians are unable to protect patients from potentially catastrophic transfusion reactions. The development of a Risk Matrix Tool for the pathology service to assess the risk of minor ABO mismatched apheresis platelet transfusions based on ABO haemagglutinin titres improves patient safety by assisting clinical decision-making when minor ABO mismatch platelets must be used.