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Feature Article - Australian Red Cross blood transfusion service
There are Red Cross blood centres in Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie. Purpose-built laboratories were opened in June 1991 and a reorganisation of the different departments State-wide was undertaken. Blood throughout the State is now distributed from Hobart.
In 1995 Blood Services Tasmania obtained the Certificate of Registration to the standard of Quality ISO 9002/AS 3902/NZ 9002, the first Blood Service in Australia to achieve this level of accreditation.
Donors are interviewed and assessed before the donation is taken. It usually takes about half an hour from the time the donor fills in the necessary forms until the cup of tea, coffee or milkshake is provided by the volunteers at the end of the donation.
A healthy person can donate whole blood about every twelve weeks. Whole blood donations from registered donors are split into several components, such as red cells, platelets and plasma.
Autologous blood collection was commenced in the early 1980s. This involves the collection of a person’s own blood prior to undergoing elective surgery. The blood collected this way can only be used for the particular person who has donated it.
In 1991 the plasmapheresis service began. Using sophisticated equipment, the donor’s blood is taken, passed through a machine that removes only the plasma, and is then returned to the donor. As they do not lose their red blood cells, plasmapheresis donors can donate more frequently than whole blood donors. The process usually takes about forty minutes.
A clinical service is also provided to hospital-based clinical oncology services by providing an instrument-based procedure for cell removal from the blood stream. This allows peripheral blood stem cells to be harvested. These can be used to transplant in place of bone marrow.
At the accreditation laboratory blood screening tests are performed, ranging from blood grouping; testing for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus type I and II, hepatitis C, and human T leukaemia virus; testing for the hepatitis B virus and screening for syphilis.
In 1992 the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry was initiated, which allowed volunteers to have their names placed on a register of people willing to donate bone marrow for use in the treatment of leukaemia. The Donor Centre and Tissue Typing are undertaken by the Australian Red Cross Blood Services Tasmania on behalf of the Australian Bone Marrow Registry. Tissue Typing is also performed by the laboratory for clinical patients within Tasmania.
Blood is released from quarantine after the necessary tests have been performed and found satisfactory. Then blood and blood products are distributed throughout Tasmania to hospitals, doctors and pathology departments. Great care needs to be taken in the handling of the products to ensure they are maintained in the optimum condition.
The Blood Service is often taken for granted, but a large scale emergency can highlight the importance of maintaining a regular supply of blood and blood products. Victims of accidents or patients undergoing prolonged treatment appreciate the generous gift of life. The voluntary donors’ reward is the knowledge that they perform a vital service.
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