Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Blood Bank

April 23, 2014

In our Martha Jefferson Healthwise report, it's Lab Professionals Week which is a time to recognize those who work in the lab. This week, we're taking a look at the blood bank at the hospital and the role it plays in a patient's healthcare.

When you think of getting treated at the hospital, you probably think of doctors, patient rooms, the emergency department or maybe even an operating room.

However, there is a lot happening behind the scenes at the hospital to keep you safe and healthy.

One other important area is the lab, specifically the blood bank.

"We enjoy being in the background. It's pretty important to us that we get the most quality results out in every single patient to support physicians and the nursing staff. The number one thing is to make sure that the patient leaves here more healthy than before," said Blood Bank Section Leader Matthew Gardner, Martha Jefferson Hospital.

Gardner says they keep patients safe and healthy by tracking, preparing and storing plasma, platelets and blood for patients who need transfusions.

"Usually, they need it for something like a surgery or an accident or they may have a certain type of anemia," said Gardner.

However, there's even more that takes place in the lab like special testing for the blood before it's used for a transfusion.

"We also test for atypical antibodies. We do pre-natal testing, neo-natal testing and cord blood testing," said Gardner.

All of the testing ensures that patients who are receiving blood get the safest transfusions possible.

"People that may have had been pregnant or perhaps they've had a transfusion before, they may have an atypical antibody or something and we want to make sure that the blood that we give them is not going to react to that antibody. So, we do that testing," said Gardner.

While the blood bank in the lab may not be the most visible department in the hospital, Gardener says the work being done there is just as important as the care a patient receives in other parts of the hospital.

Stored blood in the blood bank only has an eight week shelf life. So, the hospital is always in need of donations.

If you'd like to donate, Martha Jefferson is holding a blood drive Thursday April 24, from noon until 4:00 p.m. in the front parking lot of the hospital.

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