BlueCross BlueShield Foundation, Scott Foundation, Union Pacific Foundation, and Weyerhaeuser Foundation were recognized today by LifeShare Blood Centers for major contributions to protect and preserve one of the world’s largest collections of rare red blood cell samples. LifeShare Blood Centers is the steward of the rare collection that it uses in blood compatibility testing for hospitals and blood centers worldwide.
The laboratory uses the rare cells to solve complex transfusion cases for patients with rare, difficult to match blood types. The unique collection of cells must be stored in liquid nitrogen tanks to maintain their viability for use in compatibility testing. “Without immediate access to the rare cells, patient care will be delayed due to the need to send patient samples to another reference lab in another state,” according to Wendell Jones, MS, MT(ASCP)SBB, Executive Director of the John J. Moulds Immunohematology Reference Laboratory. “LifeShare’s inventory currently includes over 25,000 vials of rare red blood cells with over 100 examples of rare blood groups and variants of those blood groups. This extensive inventory ranks in the top three red cell inventories in the world,” explains Jones.
LifeShare’s capacity to expand the collection and provide compatible blood for chronically transfused patients was experienced first-hand by 67-year old Louvenia Williams of Ruston, LA. Ms. Williams suffers from Bernard-Soulier Syndrome and has been receiving blood transfusions since she was approximately 15 months old. “Without compatible blood, I would not be here,” says Williams. “I can’t thank the blood donors and LifeShare enough for the countless units of blood I have received throughout my lifetime. I got to be a mother because donors gave blood so I wouldn’t bleed to death and now I get to enjoy my grandchildren, because the blood is always there when I need it. It is truly a blessing to have these services available so close to home.”
LifeShare currently manages the collection in 12 tanks that have aged and become inefficient. Funding support allows the collection to be safely consolidated into two new, larger tanks with state-of-the-art safety technology and greatly improved energy efficiency. The efficient new tanks will also save LifeShare between $30,000 and $40,000 annually in liquid nitrogen replacement costs.
“Safely preserving the irreplaceable collection, decreasing supply costs and increasing the safety aspects for our lab technicians are just three of the benefits new storage tanks provide. Of course, the most important benefit is the level of patient care LifeShare will continue to provide to our patients and those patients served by the American Rare Donor Program (ARDP),” according to JoAnn Moulds, PhD, MT(ASCP)SBB, Director, Scientific Support Services.
The American Rare Donor Program is a national organization that facilitates the location and delivery of rare blood products for difficult to match transfusion patients national and internationally. LifeShare is consistently one of the largest providers of rare blood products to ARDP.
The total project costs are $112,000. LifeShare must raise another $35,000 to completely fund the project. To make a financial contribution benefiting the rare cells preservation and storage project contact LifeShare’s Development Team at 318.651.4415
LifeShare Blood Centers regularly supplies blood components to 117 medical facilities throughout Louisiana, East Texas and South Arkansas. Founded in Shreveport, La. in 1942, it is a nonprofit community service provider governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees. LifeShare is a member of America’s Blood Centers and the American Rare Donor Program, is licensed by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and accredited by AABB.