LifeSouth collects blood for Henry Medical Center

Photo by Elaine Rackley
Douglas Newton, of Henry Medical Center, opens a box that contains blood "Pedia Packs," delivered to the hospital to be used for premature babies during surgery.

Photo by Elaine Rackley Douglas Newton, of Henry Medical Center, opens a box that contains blood "Pedia Packs," delivered to the hospital to be used for premature babies during surgery.

By Elaine Rackley


LifeSouth Blood Centers wants blood.

The primary blood supplier to Henry Medical Center (HMC) is encouraging residents to donate blood regularly, in order to better serve the community.

The reasons for the appeal are many. There were approximately 8,700 surgeries performed at HMC in 2010. The hospital needs the donated blood in order to support its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which could have between 12 to 20 infant patients at any time. In addition, blood is needed for cancer patients, and for sickle cell anemia patients, according to HMC officials.

"We have a high sickle cell anemia population in Henry County," said HMC Director of Laboratory Services Barbara Rainone. "They require special red cells. We have six to 12 patients that come to the hospital on a routine basis for transfusions."

Donated blood also is needed for oncology patients. "We have several oncology patients who need irradiated blood," said HMC Transfusion Services Supervisor Douglas Newton. "The immune system in an oncology patient is so compromised that the white cells cause a transfusion reaction."

He said a cancer patient uses a large amount of blood products throughout treatment, and blood transfusions can range from once a week, to every other week.

LifeSouth Blood Centers is partnering with the Joseph Alliance organization to hold a blood drive Friday, June 10, at Northern Tool, located at 3879 Ga. Highway 138, in Stockbridge, from 11a.m., until 4 p.m. Another drive is set for Monday, June 13, at the new Locust Grove Wal-Mart, from 1 p.m., until 6 p.m.

"One of the reasons people should become regular donors is because there is a continuous need," said LifeSouth Regional Manager Sheila Zachow. "The donated blood must be used before its expiration date."

Red blood cells have an approximate 30 day expiration. Blood plasma is frozen, and can last about 30 days. Blood platelets have a 5-day expiration date, explained Zachow.

They are primarily used for cancer patients, or anytime a patient has difficulty healing, said LifeSouth District Community Development Coordinator Michael Becker.

When a person donates blood, he or she will donate about "500 cc." LifeSouth will "fractionate" the blood into red cells only, plasma only, and platelets, so that it can be given to three to four patients. There are several blood types: O positive, O negative, A positive , A negative, B positive and B negative. O negative is the universal type, which can be transferred to any blood type, according to officials.

"We are about to do cord-blood donations," said Becker. Cord-blood donations are from pregnant women, who donate their umbilical cord to save lives, he explained. The umbilical cord contains a "very pure" form of blood. The cord blood is usually discarded as medical waste, said Becker.

Newton is responsible for ensuring HMC is in compliance with all of the Food and Drug Administration's requirements. He maintains the blood inventory by logging each blood delivery into the hospital's computer, using a 13-character donor "universal standard" number.

The blood is then tagged and stored. "That way, we can transport this product anywhere in the world, and know who donated, and when," said Newton. "We have to be able to trace [the blood] from the time the donor donates it, until the receiver gets the blood."

Friday, LifeSouth Regional Manager Zachow, delivered "Pedia Packs," and blood plasma to HMC. The Pedia Packs are designed for premature babies. LifeSouth makes daily deliveries to the hospital, and on some occasions, two to three times a day.