March 18, 2018 by kshearon12
To the overeager donor who will just not leave me alone
To the nervous donor who is deathly afraid of needles but just wants to bless
To the donor who is simply at the right place and at the right time during an emergency
There are many things I love about my job here on the AFM. One of my favorites is managing the blood bank to ensure we have enough donors at the right place and time to support our surgeries. I will not go into the nitty-gritty — though some may find how I manage an excel spreadsheet with our always changing crew thrilling, most will not. This program is the perfect way for our non-medical crew to make a tangible difference in the lives of our patients. The beautiful thing is donors come in all shapes, sizes, ages and professions. They all share a heart to help our patients.
My friends and I joke that my super power is knowing the blood types of the crew. I do admit this skill has come in handy when a large case has exhausted our current list and I must wander the ship looking for our next victim– I mean willing– donor. This post is not about any of these things, however. It is about how cool God is at bringing who we need at the right place and the right time to meet our blood usage needs. Not only does he make the staffing of this place work, He also cares about the little (but important) things.
Take this story for example:
This past weekend we had a patient go back to surgery to try and clear up a raging infection. She has a rare blood type (AB pos which only about 4% of our donor population have) but in the blood banking world I would be able to easily find units to pack instead of using whole blood. Especially on a weekend when most of the ship is ashore.
Hold up — What exactly do I mean by packing units? Well as you may or may not know blood is made up of cells, platelets and a liquid part called plasma. When it is allowed to sit over time the heavier particles (the cells) fall to the bottom of the container and the liquid part (the plasma) is on-top. At home blood banks store blood separated by components (red cells, plasma and platelets). We do not have this luxury on the ship so we mostly give whole blood units (meaning the patient gets it all in one go). We can also “pack” a unit of cells if we have had it sitting on the shelf for a day or two (collected units are good for 35 days refrigerated). This has been a huge blessing for patients who have rare blood types that take multiple units. It also helps us not exhaust our donor blood supply.
Back to the story.
I get the call from the OR that they want a unit of whole blood for this patient. I pause and then explain why this would be challenging on a normal day and almost impossible on a weekend. I then offered that I had units I could pack from our current stores. Luckily, the anesthesia on the case said he was the right blood type and that he would be right down to donate.
How cool is that? If he wasn’t on call this weekend and if this patient went to surgery another day this story would have played out differently. For lab staff I am the one here currently that is most comfortable drawing blood so if I wasn’t on-call this weekend this would have also changed things. This is one small example with how perfect God’s timing is and His faithfulness in the little things here. Little things can easily become big things so I sure am glad He has them too!
So thank you to all my donors that have already donated, thank you to those that were willing but we didn’t need at that time and thank you to those who have yet to donate in the upcoming weeks.
We are at 130 units donated for Cameroon and counting…
PS: Here is our donor map where we keep track of where our donors are from. Pretty neat, huh?