Christina Mikkelsen is the local coordinator for WP5 leader, University of Copenhagen – Region Høvedstaden. In the last two years she worked, with Work Package 5 team, on the development of donor selection and protection guidelines, one of the most important deliverables of Transpose Project.
Christina, how do you think the Transpose guidelines will impact on the selection donor policies in EU?
I hope that our work can serve to inspire changes in the Directive to close the gap between the current guidelines and available research. Especially within the field of donor protection, where our work shows a significant need for attention. Despite an increasing amount of research which documents the long-term effects of both blood, plasma, sperm and stem cell donation, this has yet to be explicitly incorporated in the guidelines for donor selection. Furthermore, those deferrals which are not evidence-based should be avoided as much as possible to secure the chain of supply.
Which were the most debated subjects in the drafting of the guidelines?
The most debated items were HIV and Hepatitis B and C. As there are many different deferral periods across Europe and also many different ways to assess the risk in the individual donor (either through an individual assessment or by group epidemiology), how to reach a common statement was the focus of many meetings. Furthermore, as this is an issue where there is not consensus among different professionals or across SoHO’s, it is clearly something that needs a separate focus after the end of TRANSPOSE. More SoHO specific, especially proposing an upper limit for plasmapheresis donation, gave cause for some discussion, as all members were very determined to protect the plasma donors as best as possible and as current scientific evidence on this matter is still too sparse.
Have you ever thought “we’ll never get an agreement about this topic”?As always in a large project like this you sometimes lose faith towards the end, when the deadline approaches. Fortunately, our dedicated participants were eager to produce the best outcome possible and very open to suggestions and comments from both internal and external reviewers. So in the WP5 management team we remained confident that we would reach consensus.
How would you describe your experience working with specialists coming from so many countries and with so many different backgrounds?
As a young physician training in transfusion medicine it has been an absolute privilege to work with so many highly skilled and dedicated experts. Everyone has used their specific expert knowledge to improve our work and to bring new dimensions to the discussions. Though I must say, that leading teleconferences with so many participants is quite the exercise in both project management and diplomacy.