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Donor Center Series: Rosedale – Carter BloodCare

This article is part of a regular series highlighting each of Carter BloodCare’s donor centers, their teams and their commitment to serving communities by fulfilling the mission to save lives by making transfusion possible.

Delivering Great Experiences That Stick Well at the Rosedale Donor Center in Fort Worth

Expertise, education and recruitment are making the donor difference

For new donors, it can all come down to the “stick.”

“What actually happens with the needle is very important,” said Site Supervisor Ricky Wingham with Carter BloodCare’s Rosedale Donor Center in Fort Worth. “The experience they have – that it’s a really good donor experience – is one of the main things that will help people get over their fears and come back.”

Fortunately, their arms are in good hands with the Rosedale team.

“This team is made up of mostly senior staff,” said Donor Center Manager Frances Carson. “The majority have been with Carter BloodCare for over 10 years.”

“I’m not even the longest running employee here,” said Wingham, who’s worked nearly 15 years with Carter BloodCare. “So when you have a donor who’s new, it helps to let them know, ‘OK, we’re going to give you this person who’s been here for 10 years and they’re going to take good care of you.’ That makes a difference. It’s a big part of customer experience.”

That level of expertise translates into great experiences for new and returning donors like James Salinas of Burleson.

“I haven’t donated in a long, long time, but my wife has. She’s donating now,” he said as he waited in the Rosedale center’s canteen area. “I’m afraid of needles, but I donate because we all know blood is needed all year round.”

Putting donors at ease by delivering a positive experience is a source of pride for Wingham’s team, which includes Phlebotomists 2 Krystal Cervantes, Crystal Dobbins, Jose Ortega, Tawahna Renfro and Jane Williams, and Phlebotomists 1 Ruschelle Hess and Brittney Williams.

The Rosedale location typically processes 25 to 35 donors a day, with a weekly average of more than 120 donors.

“The past couple of weeks, it’s been a little heavier than normal. The difference is, we’re seeing different people; we’re seeing a lot of new faces now, which is a good thing,” said Wingham. “There are a lot of new donors coming in. I think they know what’s going on; they’ve heard the different calls and appeals to deal with our blood shortage.”

An essential part of Fort Worth’s Medical District

The Rosedale facility is conveniently located in the world-class Medical District near downtown Fort Worth, an area also known as Near Southside. Of historical note, the current building sits on the site of Fort Worth’s original Carter Blood Center, which was chartered in 1959 through a grant by the Amon G. Carter Foundation.

The Medical District is home to Tarrant County’s major hospitals and dozens of independent clinics.

The Near Southside neighborhood roster reads like a Who’s Who of leading health care institutions, including Cook Children’s Medical Center, which also has pediatric offices on the second floor of the Carter BloodCare-owned Rosedale Street building; Medical City Fort Worth; JPS Health Network’s Patient Care Pavilion; Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth; Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth and UT Southwestern’s Moncrief Cancer Institute, among many others.

“We do interact with them and we see a lot of people who work in the area. We meet people from every aspect of life here,” said Wingham. “A lot of times, they’re donating not because of something that happened to them, but to someone they know.

“There are sick people that need blood and other products, and the hospitals rely on us to have the products available. It’s important to be part of that big cycle that helps people,” he said. “I don’t want us to ever forget how important this side of it is.”

The center houses six donor beds for blood product collection, with four screening booths.

Rosedale typically collects more donations of whole blood, in which one unit or pint of blood is taken for separation into its component parts later in the lab.

However, the center holds the distinction as one of only two in Carter BloodCare’s service area – the Preston Valley site in North Dallas being the other – that conducts clinical apheresis.

Educating donors on apheresis

For donors who may not be familiar, apheresis is an automated process which allows them to maximize their donations for their blood types and give specific components. The apheresis instrument works by centrifugation of blood drawn from the donor. It layers the cells of the blood by weight or density and separates them from the liquid, while maintaining them in a closed circuit to prevent contamination.

The instrument can then draw out the desired part or parts of the blood into a sterile bag for storage. Most automated donations consist of a combination of platelets, red blood cells and plasma.

Though apheresis requires a longer time commitment – typically up to two hours – from the donor, it allows for a more generous donation of each of these components than whole blood donation would.

“On the apheresis side, we see about eight to 10 of these donors a day, about 45 to 55 per week,” said Wingham. “We once did 22 in one day and that was pretty incredible, but I’d still like to see more focus on apheresis.”

Ultimately, that focus is driven by the mission to help as many people as possible.

“We always want to be the most productive and maximize the donor potential, letting them know there are other things that are needed, not only whole blood,” said Wingham. “People who come in to give blood, they’re open to listening to that, because they’re really here to help.”

Ortega, who has worked with Carter BloodCare for 14 years, agreed.

“That’s something I pride myself in what I do – educating our donors, giving them direction as needed on where we can have the best results, building those donor relationships, helping them really understand what we do and how they can help in the best way they can,” he said.

Wingham added, “Information is a big part of recruiting, because recruiting and asking are two different things. If I just ask a person to do something, they may have no idea what it is and more than likely will just say no.

“But if I’m recruiting a person, then I’m letting them know all the advantages, why we do it, what it’s used for. In that way, I have a better chance of reaching that person and it’s easier to convince them to try donating other blood products, like platelets,” he said.

In particular, platelets are vital components used primarily for treating cancer patients, those undergoing heart surgery, and people with traumatic injuries.

Unlike whole blood donations, which can be made every 56 days, platelet donations through apheresis can be performed every two weeks.

“I have two aunts and a cousin who receive platelets, so it’s very important to me,” said Renfro, a 14-year Carter BloodCare team member. “If donors ask me, or if they’re first-time platelet donors, I tell them how important platelets are. We try to educate our donors on the importance of platelets because there are so many cancer patients and people who need them right now.”

A reason to return

“Everyone always has a story for why they donate,” said Dobbins, who has worked with Carter BloodCare for 22 years. “It might be something in their life that hit them hard or they have a relative that was impacted, but everyone has a reason for why they continue to donate.”

A friendly, welcoming environment and a cohesive, knowledgeable team of phlebotomists are influential factors in transforming first-timers into repeat donors.

“Ultimately, once a person walks through that door, even if they have this great fear of needles, they’ve already decided they want to challenge that fear,” said Wingham. “That’s a big part of why they’re here in the first place.”

For Salinas, the highly experienced team at the Rosedale Donor Center made a positive difference in helping him overcome his fears.

“You can get busy with life and kids and work and everything that’s going on, even being afraid of needles, but this is important and there’s a big need,” he said, as he and his wife prepared to leave after their donations.

But before they did, he had this promise to share:

“We’ll make it a habit now to keep coming back.

Details:

Carter BloodCare
Rosedale Donor Center
1263 W. Rosedale St., Ste. 100
Fort Worth, TX 76104
817-335-493

Hours of operation:
Monday – Friday      8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday                  8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sunday                    Closed

Carter BloodCare’s team at the Rosedale Donor Center in Fort Worth is ready to see you for your next lifesaving donation to help Texas patients in need. To find additional donor centers, visit carterbloodcare.org or call/text 800-366-2834 for an appointment.



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When Donating Blood Comes Full Circle – Bloodworks Northwest Blog

When teacher and improv performer Jaclyn Schuenzel gave birth to her daughter Zelda in June 2020, life with her husband Marc Guy and the new baby was joyous. But just one month later, the longtime blood donor found out why those donations are so important.

Just standing in her kitchen and without any warning, she started hemorrhaging blood and struggled to call out to her husband for help before collapsing and passing out. Marc administered CPR until an ambulance arrived and whisked her to Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland. WA.

Jaclyn had suffered a ruptured uterine artery, one of the biggest blood vessels in the body, so her blood loss was severe and her condition, tenuous. Doctors immediately transfused three units of blood, and they started a fourth, they rushed her into surgery. Luckily, a specialist was on hand to find and repair the bleed in the operating room in the span of just one hour. But she still needed 10 units of blood on the operating table.

“If I had not had that blood, I wouldn’t have made it.” 

-Jaclyn Schnuezel

Happily reunited with her daughter and husband, Jaclyn has recovered fully and is grateful. Her husband and many of her family and friends immediately made blood donation appointments in gratitude for all the help Jaclyn received, and in October 2020, her employer Unexpected Productions Improv (UPI), a local theatre in the heart of Pike Place Market, hosted a virtual blood drive to highlight the need for donations in our community.

It was midnight and Jaclyn Schuenzel was simply standing in her kitchen like any other night when she suddenly needed vast quantities of blood to live. It can happen in an instant. And for that reason, our community’s need for blood never stops. Please make an appointment to donate blood today. Someone, somewhere, is counting on you.



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“I’m So Fortunate to be Able to Donate, So I Do.” – Bloodworks Northwest Blog

Leo Notenboom with one of his Corgis, Walter. Photo credit Leo Notenboom.

For National Blood Donor Month 2022, we’re highlighting one of our most dedicated – and most eclectic – platelet donors.

Leo Notenboom is so busy, he sometimes uses a tagline. “Coffee, computers, and Corgis,” he says, “and not necessarily in that order.” He is also self-employed (but was the 342nd employee at Microsoft), an avid volunteer with Washington State Animal Response Team, an amateur radio operator, and an over-200-unit blood and platelet donor.

Like many blood donors, Leo’s first donation happened when Bloodworks came to him. In his case, it was at work, with a bloodmobile, and more than 30 years ago. He can’t say why he made that first donation that day, but his wife was then a Licensed Practical Nurse, so he understood “what would happen with blood, what it was used for, why it was important, and how donations end up helping the people in need. So it just sort of fit.” And over the years, his dedication grew:

“This is one of those very easy and obvious ways for me to give back in a way that I think a lot of other people might not be able to.”

After donating whole blood a few times, Leo became a platelet donor since he had flexibility in his schedule to accommodate the longer donation time. Not one for doing anything on a small scale (he hosts the annual Pacific Northwest Corgi Party at his house every year with dozens of them in his back yard; yes, there are photos), he just completed his 105th platelet donation.

Leo teaching radio fundamentals at Washington State Animal Response Team, where he’s a volunteer. Photo credit: Leo Notenboom.

We asked Leo for his thoughts on the pandemic-era that has halted the kind of workplace blood drives that introduced him to blood donation, and he said it better than we could. “This is one of the safest environments I can think of during the pandemic to be able to do something like this. Especially now, because there aren’t any blood drives going on at the workplace, it’s that much more important for those of us who can to take that extra effort to come in, make the appointment, donate whole blood, donate platelets, whatever it is you can do. You can do it; perhaps other people can’t. And we know that there’s a huge, huge need.”

When Leo isn’t donating platelets, rescuing stricken animals from perilous situations, writing books that make technology more accessible, or managing the oldest and largest internet mailing list for Corgi lovers, Leo hosts a few of his own websites, each centered on his optimistic spirit. With names like Heroic Stories and Not All News Is Bad, Leo spends time each day scouring the internet for stories of human kindness and hope. We asked him why he strives to be so optimistic:

“It’s helped me not fall into the abyss. And the ability to share good news with others makes me feel like I’m making the world a little bit of a better for people who need that reminder.”

Leo said he didn’t know what pulled him through that bloodmobile’s door all those years ago, but we think in that statement, he found the answer. Spreading optimism, human kindness and hope is clearly in Leo’s blood. It’s why he maintains those websites, helps rescue stricken animals, and herds Corgis in an explosion of cuteness every summer. And we think it’s why he donates platelets too. Because that’s what blood and platelet donation is – hope offered when nothing else will do.

So Happy National Blood Donor Month to one and all! We’re grateful to you all every day, and stay tuned for a new episode of our podcast, Bloodworks 101, featuring Leo!

We may be a regional blood center supporting 90+ hospitals throughout the Pacific Northwest, but we’ll never pass up an opportunity to share a photo of a Corgi in flight. Photo credit: Leo Notenboom & Freddie.



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Diagnosis, treatment, & prevention: patient care at Bloodworks

The Pacific Northwest knows Bloodworks as the go-to resource for all things blood. While this may feel like a limited scope—the red stuff that comes out of your arm when you donate–blood impacts all aspects of life.

When it comes to patient care and the number of services offered, conditions treated, diagnostics performed, and research conducted, Bloodworks is a diverse organization, spanning the spectrum of medicine from diagnosis through specialized testing to treatment by our clinical programs to prevention via blood research.

Blood is complex.

Take platelets, the part of the blood that controls bleeding. If a patient’s platelet counts becomes low, they are at risk of uncontrolled, unwanted bleeding. This is bad. Bloodworks collects and distributes platelets to help these patients control bleeding.

If this goes in the opposite direction — platelet counts become too high or can’t properly regulate their function — the patient may experience unwanted blood clotting. This is also bad.

Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is one example of unwanted platelet activity and demonstrates how Bloodworks works together to treat patients.

“TTP is a rare disorder, but it’s a devastating disorder,” said Dr. Jose Lopez, Chief Scientific Officer. “If someone gets TTP and it’s left untreated, it’s almost universally fatal. So it’s really important to get a diagnosis and get it treated promptly.”

However, TTP research and care has broader impact.

“In trying to help patients with a very rare disease, we quite often learn about diseases that are very common,” added Dr. Lopez.

It’s a collaboration.

Diagnosis

Bloodworks laboratories performs the diagnostic studies that can determine TTP and clotting and bleeding disorders.

 “The beauty of these small labs is that they are very flexible and we can kind of add tests as necessary,” said Gayle Teramura, manager of Bloodworks’ Genomics Testing, Platelet Immunology and Hemostasis Reference Laboratories.

One of these tests measures ADAMTS13 activity.

ADAMTS13 is an enzyme involved in blood clotting. When working as it should, ADAMTS13 keeps the body’s clotting mechanisms in balance. TTP occurs when something, like antibodies from an infection, autoimmune disorder, or medication, inhibits ADAMTS13 activity, though only about half of TTP cases have a clear trigger.

When TTP is suspected, Bloodworks receives samples from local hospitals, runs tests to determine ADAMTS13 activity, and then sends them back to the hospitals once we know the results.

But that’s not where it stops.

Treatment

If a test results indicate TTP, “we notify WACAT that there’s a patient with low protease activity,” said Gayle. “We do that to allow them some time to prepare as a possibility of having to perform a procedure on this patient.”

She adds, “That requires that the whole team at Bloodworks has to kick in: we need blood products and a variety of things for us to do the procedure, and it has to be perfectly orchestrated because this disease is life-threatening.”

This procedure, therapeutic plasma exchange, is similar to a platelet, plasma, or red cell donation via apheresis.

“During the treatment, we sure use a ton of plasma to replenish fresh ADAMTS13 that the patient is deficient,” said Dr. David Lin, medical director of Washington Center for Apheresis Therapy (WACAT).

An apheresis machine uses a centrifuge to separate and remove unwanted blood components, in this case the plasma containing harmful antibodies, then returns the rest of the blood components and replacement plasma to the patient.

Research

Sometimes, however, the test results in Gayle’s labs do not fit the symptoms or the diagnosis.

“We’re finding out through all our expert research that it could be the sensitivity of the assay (analytic test) we’re running, or it could be that there are different epitopes (the part of an antigen that an antibody attaches to) that possibly could be a target that we’re missing,” she explained.

Twenty years ago,Dr. Dominic Chung, a senior scientist at Bloodworks Research Institute was in the group that first identified the ADAMTS13 enzyme and its role in blood clotting – including working on diagnostic assays.

 “In our ongoing efforts to understand TTP, we have leveraged our understanding of protein chemistry, and actually developed several new assays that are relevant to TTP,” he said.

These compliment the clinical tests. Whenever a clinical test gives results that aren’t clear, we can use the tests that Bloodworks Research Institute developed to get a better picture of the patient’s situation to help their physicians improve their outcome.

One of these tests is a reagent that can measure protein levels. Another is an immunological assay to look at ADAMTS13 antibodies; Dr. Chung’s lab isolated these antibodies and turned them into a simple dipstick test.

“The enzyme that is missing in TTP turns out also to be involved in many other conditions, including severe trauma or severe sepsis – yes, including COVID-19 – so there is an increasing need of measuring this enzyme,” he said.

Simpler, easier tests, like the ones Dr. Chung is developing in his lab, will address this need in the future.

There’s no substitute for donated blood – unless…

Bloodworks always has a need for donated platelets and, like blood centers across the country, has seen a decrease in blood and platelet donors in the past decade, leading to shortages.

Bloodworks’ Cord Blood Program banks donated umbilical cord blood for stem cell transplantation. However, not every cord that is collected has enough cells to be banked for transplant, and those that do not make the cut may be used for research.

Bloodworks Research Institute, in partnership with Bloodworks Bio, is currently embarking on research to try to make platelet-like cells from cord blood. Time will tell if this is an effective source of platelets for transfusion, but one thing is for sure: we have the science to determine either way.

This is just one of the many ways we work across disciplines to save lives in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.



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