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January 30, 1998     Cape Gazette
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January 30, 1998

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32 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, January 30 - February 5, 1998 What happens behind the scenes at the blood bank You walk in. You donate blood. It's run through some test tubes. It's delivered to a patient. Right? On the surface, yes. But behind the scenes, each step of the blood donation process is much more intricate than the publi c may be aware. The entire procedure - from recruiting donors to del!vering the blood to hospitals, can be broken down into four major steps: tele- phone prescreening; predonation screening; donation, processing/ testing; and delivery. Here's how each one works: Telephone prescreening (two to three minutes): When potential donors call to make an appoint- ment to give blood, they are asked several questions about their med- ical history. The purpose of the telephone interview is to screen out those donors who clearly don't qualify to give blood so that person does not make an unneces- sary trip to the blood bank. Day of donation (prescreening interview and miniphysical - 25 minutes): When donors arrive at the blood bank, they are asked to confirm some personal informa- tion (birthdate, address, etc.) and then are given some information to read about the donation process. A phlebotomist will then greet the donor and conduct a medical interview (consisting of 38 questions) and perform a mini- physical (temperature, blood pres- sure and iron level of blood). If the donor is qualified to continue the procedure, he or she goes into the donor room. Donation (five to six minutes): The donor sits in a lounge chair and his or her arm is checked by a phlebotomist for vein suitability. The donor's arm is then sterilized with an iodine scrub solution and a needle is inserted. The donor is asked to squeeze a rubber ball every 10 to 15 seconds to expedite the donation. The blood is collected in a multiple bag system where it is kept "alive" through a solution in one of the bags, which also prevents clotting. Once a pint (or unit) is collected, one or more test tubes are also filled with the blood for the testing procedures. After the donation, the donor sits in what is known as the can- teen area, and enjoys some light refreshments to help the body start replacing the cells taken during the donation and to make sure the donor is feeling refreshed before leaving. After 15 minutes in the canteen area, the donor is free to leave. After a whole donation, Beebe hosts weekly Alateen meetings Alateen, a fellowship of young people whose lives have been affected by alcoholism in a family member or close friend, meets Sundays, at 8 p.m., in the Physi- cians Dining Room at Beebe Medical Center. For more infor- marion, call 645-3311. donors receive one credit on their blood bank membership plan. Plateletpheresis donors receive two credits. Donors may keep the credit(s) themselves or give the credit to another member who is unable to donate. Processing/testing (average time; eight hours): After the donor gives blood, the unit of blood is passed through what is known as "the window" - an open window between the donor room and the laboratory, where the unit is recorded on a blood processing record sheet and entered into the lab's computer. Then, the unit is separated into several blood prod- ucts: red blood cells, plasma and platelets, according to inventory needs. The blood must be separat- ed into these components within eight hours of a donation. The unit is weighed and put into a refrigerated centrifuge, where it spins at a specified speed to force the red blood cells to the bottom of the bag. It then goes to a plasma extraction machine known as an expressor, which removes the plasma from the red cells. If platelets are needed, the unit is spun a second time to extract those. After this second spin, the platelets are placed in an incuba- tor, where they "rest" for about an hour and a half. They are then placed on rotators that agitate the platelets to prevent them from clotting together. All of the processing and testing procedures are regimented by exacting standards, which are reg- ulated by the American Associa- tion of Blood Banks and the Food and Drug Administration. Throughout testing and process- ing, results are recorded either by a lab technician or through an automated process set by the test- ing equipment. The day after a donation, the unit of blood is processed through the following schedule: from 7 to 8:30 a.m., instrumentation and samples are prepared; from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., testing takes place; and from 2 to 3:30 p.m., the results are recorded. Nine infectious disease tests are conducted at the blood bank, where approximately 250 units of blood are tested each day. Tests are run to detect AIDS antibodies, the AIDS virus, hepatitis B and C, possible hepatitis exposure, a rare type of leukemia, syphilis and cytomegalovirus. Once testing is complete, the results are registered in a comput- er. If any test results are positive, the unit of blood is not labeled and will therefore not be used. The unit is destroyed, but samples of the blood are retested and the donor is notified of his or her test results. Delivery: The 18 hospitals the blood bank serves call daily and/or weekly to inform staff of their usage needs for blood and blood products. Each hospital maintains an inventory for its patients' needs. More than 5,000 units of blood are kept at the blood bank on a daily basis to be delivered to the 18 hospitals as needed: Drivers are on-call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to deliver blood to hospitals. During the shipping procedure, the blood bank must be able to track where each component of the blood unit is going. (During the Blizzard of 1996, the National Guard was called upon to help the blood bank deliver blood.) For more informa- tion about the blood bank or how to become a member, call 1-800- 628-4008. Introducing DigiFocus, the first 100% digital hearing aid. Now the digital tech- nology that made CDs possible is available in an advanced hearing instru: ment. With its computer- ized 100% digital sound processing, DigiFocus makes millions of calcula- tions per second, con- stantly shaping the incom- :mg sound to suit your hear- ing - automatically. What's more, unlike other hearing instruments, DigiFocus splits sound into seven distinct frequencies, so it can be more precisely fit to your specific hearing needs. Find out what digital technolo- gy can mean to your hearing. Call today! HEARING AID ASSOCIATES Millsboro 934-1471 Hours: Monday-Friday 9-5 p.m. Evenings Available by Appointment - 2 miles N. of Fit. 24 on Rt. 30 6 miles S. of Rt. 9 on Rt. 30 Take tb/s to Heart... HEARTCARE BEEBE MEDICAL CENTER LEWES, DELAWARE Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Sussex County 25% higher than the state average. Find out about the health of your heart at Beebe Medical Center's HETCARE Health Fair. HEARTCARE Health Fair Tuesday, February I O, 1998 at Rehoboth Mall 10:00 a.m.-2 p.m. Activities Include: Cholesterol screenings with results given to customer on site. EKGs for $5 fee. Call 645-3332 before February 10 to precegister. Blood pressure screenings by the American Heart Association. Nutrition counseling by a registered dietitian. Fitness demonstrations by the Sussex Family YMCA.