Mourning Our Best Friend

---Prof.Willem Gerard van Aken, Farewell! Wish all Goes Well!

The center received an email from ISBT on March 11, 2018. It’s with a great sigh of regret that we learn that Professor Willem Gerard van Aken, one of the best friends of the center, died on March 6, 2018.

Prof. Willem Gerard van Aken was a friend of the center for many years. He served as the chairman of the Council under the Netherlands Health Research Development Organization, the chairman of the Council under the Amsterdam Comprehensive Cancer Center, the chairman of the Medical Consultative Committee of the Sanguin Blood Supply Institution in Netherlands, the chairman of the Steering Committee under the Applied and Coordinated Development Conference for Blood & Blood Products and one consultant of the Shanghai Blood Center. He was an influential scholar in the international blood transfusion circle. 

Dr. Willem Gerard van Aken joined the center in the 1990s. In 1998, Qian Kaicheng, the deputy director of the center, Zhu Ziyan and Wang Xun from the institute were invited to visit CLB in Netherlands, and were received by Prof. Aken. His enthusiasm, straightforwardness and erudition made this visit very smooth and as a result, everyone benefited a lot from it. Dr. Wang Xun recalled that his mission was to learn the knowledge of external quality controls on infectious diseases caused by blood transfusions. Prof. Aken endeavored to help him and introduced him to Dr. Nico Lelie who had rich experience in external quality assessments on infectious disease screening examinations. Subsequently, they made a series of collaborations on external quality assessments, which laid a solid foundation for the center's work on external quality controls of infectious diseases caused by blood transfusions. The RHD gene multiple PCR diagnostic technology at the Shanghai Blood Center was also introduced by Professor Aken from the Netherlands Rotterdam Blood Center, which is still recognized by the blood transfusion circle as the most reliable RHD gene diagnostic technology until now.

From 2004 to 2008, Prof. Aken was invited to act as a consultant of the center. He seriously fulfilled his duties and responsibilities and visited the center many times. In 2006, he left a deep impression on the center, staying in the center for 10 days. During this period, he ran across various disciplines/departments of the institute, participated in academic exchanges of different disciplines, carefully evaluated scientific research and talents of the center and prepared A Research Report on the Status Quo and Development of Various Disciplines of Shanghai Blood Center. This research report was unique and incisive, because it pointed out the deficiencies in the status quo of the center's various disciplines, emphasized discipline management requirements and showed discipline development directions, all of which provided new ideas for the S&R development of the center.

In October, 2008, Prof. Aken attended the first-phase blood-station-head training class and also gave lessons. He introduced the laws and regulations on blood transfusions in the European Union and Canada, two developed countries or regions apart from the United States. European laws and regulations were mainly enacted and issued by the EU Council, but each member state must abide by anything stipulated in the regulations and laws. Each member state could hold different opinions of such regulations and laws and demonstrated different attitudes towards the laws and regulations. Of course, member states could also adopt measures which were stricter than those regulations and laws mentioned above. When member states agreed that the actions of individual countries were not enough, the European Union could help them to formulate laws. Agreements were mutually recognized among the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Japan. The European Union Directive 2002/98/EC was the core directive for EU blood transfusions. It established quality and safety standards for the collection, testing, processing, storage, and distribution of human blood and blood components. At the same time, it also confirmed to the public that human blood and blood components donated in other member states conformed to their own national standards. Prof. Aken made a detailed introduction into the content and significance of this core directive. He also briefly introduced the blood warning system of the Netherlands. Canada's blood system was supervised and managed by the Canadian Ministry of Public Health, which was responsible for the supervision of the blood system, the monitoring and review of blood and blood products, the formulation of policies, the updating of blood safety standards, the establishment of laboratory standards, the testing of reagents, the approval and utilization of medical devices, the monitoring of after-sale markets and the compliance & implementation of procedures. Canada’s blood system was assessed by the World Health Organization as one of the safest blood systems in the world, which was directly related to legislative and regulatory systems in Canada. Prof. Aken also introduced the execution and implementation of Canada’s blood safety standards. He hoped that Chinese blood managers could gain new enlightenment from different perspectives. Prof. Aken believed that the implementation framework, sound risk assessments and risk management principles formulated under strict decision-makings could support the entire blood transfusion management framework. His courses broadened the horizons of trainees and were uniformly appreciated.

Prof. Aken had “a deep and profound emotion but a short predestined relationship” with the center. He left us. What he gives to us are not only his academic achievements, but also his passion for blood transfusions. We deeply miss Prof. Willem Gerard van Aken and thank him for doing everything for the center and for China's blood transfusion undertakings! Prof. Willem Gerard van Aken, Farewell! Hope all goes well!
Copywriter: SUN Ying
Reviewer: ZHU Ziyan
Translated: MA Guohao
Edited: Kurt Lee

Director Yongming ZHU meets Professor Willem Gerard van Aken first time in 1998.

The assessment report on SBC scientific research and scientists written by Professor Willem Gerard van Aken in 2006.


Professor Willem Gerard van Aken was invited to present in Educational Courses for the Leaders of Blood Services in 2008.