Monday, April 19, 2021

Keeping the blood bank stocked

Institutions around the country have been floundering in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the National Blood Centre in Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur, is no exception. On several occasions, it has had enough supply to last only a few days as the virus and health measures put in place to control the spread of infection keep would-be donors at home.

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Next, a small sample of blood is taken to determine their blood type.

They are also questioned about their health and medical background to ensure that the blood they donate is safe for public use.

The nurse on duty prepares sets of equipment to be used during the blood donation session.

Tattoos such as this are generally not seen as an issue in blood donation. The nurse inserts the tube that will carry blood from the donor’s vein to the collection bag. About 350-450ml of blood is taken, depending on the results of the initial screening test.

Donors are asked to clench their fists around a short pipe to stimulate blood flow throughout the donation process.

The nurse on duty records the details of each donor and sticks a bar code on the registration form and collection bag.

Another nurse double checks the details of the initial blood samples which will be placed alongside the blood collection bags.

The bags of blood are recorded and categorised according to blood type.

Once they have donated their blood, donors are given something to eat and drink, and advised to rest for a short while before heading home.

Meanwhile, the process continues at the blood centre where donated blood is taken to the inventory section.

There, the bags are arranged according to volume, weighed and sent on to the next stage.

Staff members prepare the bags for the isolation process where the blood is separated into its components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma.

This is achieved by placing the blood in a centrifuge which spins until the components have finished separating.

The platelet-rich plasma is manually placed in what are known as satellite bags while the red blood remains in the original ‘mother’ bags.

Next, the bags containing the three components are suspended before the tubing is cut. The platelet-rich plasma blood will undergo further irrigation while the red blood is stored in the refrigerator until the results of the initial sample test are available.

The platelet blood concentrate, stored at temperatures of 20-24 degrees Celsius, have a shelf life of five days.

A staff member opens the freezer in which the bags of plasma are stored.

Some of these will be sent overseas for a process called fractionation for the production of fractionation-derived medicinal products.

The red blood meanwhile is stored, ready for distribution to hospitals around the country.

A staff member from Hospital Shah Alam collects several styrofoam boxes filled with donated blood to be given to patients in need.

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