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Blood buddies: coming together (remotely) to talk transfusion in 2020

COVID-19 has transformed the way all of us live and work. It’s also changed a lot for the global community of blood organisations, like Lifeblood, as well as for those health professionals who use and transfuse blood products for their patients. 

Lifeblood is just like many other organisations striving to innovate and continuing to deliver to Australians in a new, challenging and ever-changing environment. You may know about the generous contributions of our donors , but you may not know about the work we do with health professionals to help them look after and safely use those valuable, irreplaceable blood products.

With in-person conferences off the table, we wanted to come up with a way to bring together health professionals from across Australia — and around the world — to discuss the latest in transfusion. Together but apart: Transfusion United 2020 Conference.

#TU2020 was a free 2-day virtual conference we conducted this September, featuring eight international speakers in a stellar program of masterclasses, plenary sessions and presentations. We had more than 1,500 registrations from 30 countries around the world.

A live chat feature that ran throughout the event meant people could engage with presentations and connect with their peers in real time. The only thing really missing was the food!

Lifeblood Transfusion Medicine Specialist Dr Anastazia Keegan said it was exciting how quickly word got out and the event gained in momentum.

“The program was absolutely at capacity with experts wanting to be a part of the rare opportunity this year to present on a scale of this size,” she said.

Hot topics included 'Understanding the pathophysiology of TRALI’ , 'Prehospital transfusion: Something’s better than nothing’ and ‘Challenges in transfusion services during COVID-19 in Washington State'. 600 registrants alone attended the first masterclass session, ‘The Transfused and the Breathless’. #TU2020 was enormously successful in shining a light on Lifeblood’s expertise as an organisation contributing to better patient outcomes.

“In a year where most educational events have been cancelled, it was exciting to see how Lifeblood embraced the challenges and went virtual,” said Clare O’Reilly, a Transfusion Safety Nurse Clinician from Canada.

“It was an overwhelming generous act and inspirational to witness the dedication to education.

“In a time when most people have ‘screen fatigue’ and a growing aversion to ‘virtual meetings’, Transfusion United bucked the trend.”

We’re fortunate to have such great partnerships with the Royal College of Pathologists of Australia (RCPA), RCPA Quality Assurance Program, Australian and New Zealand Society of Blood Transfusion (ANZSBT), and the Haematology in Obstetrics & Women's Health (HOW) collaborative, who all helped make this event a reality.

If you want to read more about receiving blood products or transfusions, including the different types of transfusions, risks and benefits, and what to expect, visit My Transfusion.