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Meet the CSTM Board - Dr. Tanya Petraszko

Welcome to the “Meet the CSTM Board” blog series! Each month a different position on the board will be spotlighted along with some insider information on the individual in the position. Each blog will follow a different path as each position and individual is unique. We hope you enjoy.
Author: Crystal Brunk, CSTM Director at Large (2022-2024)
This blog spotlights Dr. Tanya Petraszko, the current Western Director (2021-2023), whose motto comes from the great Bill Nye (the science guy) who said, “everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't”. Meaning the more you open your eyes to, and are humbled by others, the more opportunities you will have to learn, but it is up to you how to action that knowledge.
The Western Director Position
According to the bylaws the Western Director is the liaison between the board and the Western provinces, primarily responsible for promoting CSTM and encouraging local engagement. To Tanya the role is defined by the person in it based on their own unique experiences, background, and profession. As a Canadian Blood Service (CBS) physician holding the role Tanya has been able to bring in a national medical perspective, rather than a regional, technical one. Tanya was quick to acknowledge the CSTM board as a place where all members relate on the same level whether someone is new to the field of transfusion medicine or retired, works frontline or nationally, is a technologist, nurse, scientist, or physician, everyone is equal. The CSTM board takes advantage of all the knowledge at the table getting the whole the vein-to-vein perspective and is a valuable experience for anyone.
When asked why she joined the board, Tanya said it was the right thing at the right time. Feeling a little removed from the frontline in her current CBS role she wanted to stay connected (the need for connection may have been even stronger given the pandemic) and having heard only great things about being on the board from Dr. Gwen Clarke. While on the board her proudest accomplishment was working with other CSTM members to revise the conference abstract guidelines and moving them to the CSTM website for member use.
Transfusion Medicine – Dr. Tanya Petraszko’s Experience and Insights
Prior to transfusion medicine even being a recognized medical speciality in Canada, Tanya was one of the first three physicians to complete CBS’s transfusion medicine training program and threaded throughout her career is a theme of access for all and though humble about it, Tanya has always been striving for diversity, equity, and inclusion in transfusion medicine. Early in her clinical hematology career, Tanya worked part time with CBS and quickly realized that the best way to impact as many people as possible was to ensure the safety of the blood system and once able, she transitioned to fulltime work with CBS. This has allowed her to approach issues in transfusion medicine systemically, ultimately creating a larger impact on patients than she may have done in private practise.
When asked for advice for the next generation of transfusion medicine professionals she made it simple: “if a door opens walk through it” even if you are unsure or think you can’t. The sustainment and advancement of transfusion medicine is dependant on people taking an active role in their own learning and knowledge translation so “knock on a door” or “put your hand up”, be present and hungry for knowledge.
Channeling Bill Nye again: “Did you Know That…
She Loves Platelets!
While researching for this blog, I stumbled across an article (Mullens, 1998) in which a bright-eyed and hopeful second-year hematology resident, was quoted saying “I love platelets” yes, the context was around the future of transfusion medicine post the Krever Inquiry, but I had to know after all these years is the love still there? Tanya has seen the evolution of the platelet story from regular shortages to a strong inventory, from five day outdates to seven, and now pathogen reduced platelets. So, after a quick giggle at the memory of that 1998 article, Tanya admitted that the love is still there.
She is an avid Mountain Biker
As a resident of the West Coast where mountains are a plenty Tanya finds presence in just pointing her bike downhill and going, saying that if you are not present in that moment you may not make it to the bottom. I personally see this approach to life in her whole story.
Genomics is the Future…
Notably from her bias working for CBS (the blood operator), when asked about the future of transfusion medicine, Tanya sees genomics as the epitome of best care and truly equitable access for all, as it would not just allow for better matching of components to patients but “perfect” matches even in cases of rare genotypes.
…and now you know” – Bill Nye
Mullens, A. (1998). Concern mounts as transfusion medicine loses its lustre. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 158, 1499-1502.
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