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Picture This: Blood Bank

Conquest - Fall 2011


MD Anderson's Blood Donor Center at 2555 Holly Hall St. in Houston. (Note: click on the 
image to view a larger version.)
Photo: F. Carter Smith

Cancer Patients Bank on the Kindness of Donors


By David Berkowitz

Most people go through life never having to receive a blood transfusion. But the same can’t be said for cancer patients.

MD Anderson’s patients require approximately 150 units of red blood cells and 500 units of platelets every day. But where does all this blood come from?

MD Anderson’s Blood Bank collects 26,000 units annually at two donation centers and through mobile blood drives at local schools, universities, churches and businesses. To meet patient needs, it imports additional blood products from other blood centers across the United States.

With more than 215,000 blood components (platelets, plasma or red cells) transfused during Fiscal Year 2011, the institution is the largest transfusing hospital in the nation.

Your chance to help

Cancer doesn’t stop for holidays. Blood is needed at MD Anderson 365 days a year for leukemia, lymphoma, anemia, and bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients, as well as for patients undergoing complicated surgeries.

While 60% of the population is eligible to donate, only 5% actually do. If you’d like to donate, call 713-792-7777 or go to the Blood Bank website.

During a recent afternoon, the Blood Donor Center at 2555 Holly Hall St. was a hub of activity:

1. Lundey Thornton of Houston is a frequent donor of platelets, which are specialized blood cells that help control blood clotting.

2. Subrina Narcisse, senior blood donor technician, sets up donors for blood draws and monitors their progress throughout the process.

3. The Trima blood collection machine separates a donor’s whole blood into its components through an apheresis process. While some of the components are retained, the machine transfuses the remainder back into the donor.

4. These platelet units were collected through apheresis.

5. This cart holds all the supplies a donor technician needs for a blood draw.

6. Jeremiah Johnson of Houston and Amanda Lane, a Blood Bank community representative, are frequent platelet donors. At Lane’s side is Sudhakar Mulpur, senior blood donor technician.

7. A fleet of donor coaches is used to collect blood donations in the community. More than 500 mobile collection activities are held each year.

8. After a unit of whole blood is centrifuged at 2,475 RPM to separate red cells from plasma and platelets, this Compomat blood-processing machine squeezes them into another bag.

9. These red cells were separated from a unit of whole blood. This component is used in surgeries and other types of cancer treatments. All blood products come from volunteer donors, with the donor source kept confidential.

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center