Pharmacy Residency (PGY1)

Parkland is one of the largest users of blood products in DFW

Parkland is one of the largest users of blood products in DFW

Donors recognize the importance of blood donation; lives saved

“Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give. It is a simple but powerful act of compassion that can make a significant difference in someone’s life.”

Those sentiments are but one reason Sudarshan (Shawn) Pathak, BSN, RN, OCN, an associate nursing manager at Parkland Health has donated more than two gallons of blood over the last seven years. “Blood donation is very critical, and you can make a difference,” he said. “Only 3% of the eligible population donate blood and that’s why I’m making a small effort to help people in need in our community.”

Sheila DePaola, MSN, RN, a nursing operations specialist at Parkland agrees.

“I started donating blood in high school, but I’ve been a frequent donor for about the last three years or so,” said DePaola, who has been working at Parkland for the last 38 years and has donated more than four gallons of blood. “It may be cliché, but donating blood is giving a gift of life. As a nurse, I understand how important blood donation is. At Parkland we use so much blood to treat our patients. All this blood comes from donations. It is amazing when you think about it.”

It is easy to comprehend the urgent need for blood when a patient is critically injured, and seconds can mean the difference between life and death. But at Parkland Memorial Hospital, the demand for blood and blood products reaches beyond caring for patients in its Rees-Jones Trauma Center.

January is National Blood Donor Month and nationwide most blood centers see a decrease in collections during the winter due to illness and/or weather-related incidents. The challenge is that when high schools are not in session, collection centers are not able to host those blood drives. The blood collected from high school drives contributes as much as 20% to the annual collections. That includes the donations made at those drives from non-students such as faculty and administration.

On any given day, patients receive life-saving transfusions for conditions such as chronic gastrointestinal bleeding or sickle cell disease, a severe hereditary form of anemia in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells to adequately deliver oxygen throughout the body. Blood and blood products may also be used during surgical cases, labor and delivery, dialysis or for oncology patients, among others. As a result, Parkland is one of the largest users of blood products in the area.

In FY 23, the total transfused blood products used at Parkland was 27,327 units, with the vast majority, 20,888 units or 76%, of those being red blood cells. The remainder was platelets, cryoprecipitate (clotting proteins to help control bleeding) and plasma, according to Performance Improvement & Patient Safety Specialist Limiaa Khalifa, MS, MT (ASCP) SBB, in Parkland’s Transfusion Services Department.

These products are all used in rapidly bleeding patients – be it from trauma, complicated pregnancy or other acute bleeds. Platelets, which are tiny blood cells that form clots to stop bleeding, are used predominately in oncology.

In FY 23, blood products were used in the following departments at Parkland:

  • Massive Transfusion Protocol, trauma or severe bleeds, 3,017 units, 11%
  • Apheresis, 3,853 units, 14%
  • Labor & Delivery, 2,678 units, 10%
  • Other areas such as oncology, dialysis, etc., 17,779 units or 65%

“It is critical that we always have a large supply of O-negative and AB plasma,” said Khalifa, adding that the shelf life of blood is 42 days. “Those two are considered ‘universal donors,’ meaning that it’s safe to transfuse before we obtain a blood type on a patient.”

For those cases when seconds do count, Parkland stores a supply of universal donor blood in the Rees-Jones Trauma Center for patients who need immediate blood products.

Kelly Murphy, BSN, RN, NE-BC, Magnet Program manager at Parkland, has been a blood donor for more than two decades. “My background is critical care, and I have administered probably hundreds of units of blood products over my almost 20-year nursing career, and witnessed first-hand how blood and blood products can and have saved patients’ lives many times,” she said. “Seeing this direct impact to human lives has made a lasting impact on mine. I will remain a passionate blood donor for life.”

While blood donation is a personal choice, Pathak, DePaola and Murphy often encourage others to donate if they can.

“I encourage everyone to donate. It is so important. You never know when you or a friend or loved one may need blood one day to help you,” Murphy said. “If everyone did their part, and donated when they could, with one simple donation, we could all help save lives! That is truly the best gift of all!”

For more information about donating blood, visit www.carterbloodcare.org. For more information about Parkland services, visit www.parklandhealth.org.

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