Warning: If you faint at the sight of blood, do not view this post.
Recently the main Perth blood bank moved to be more central to the City. They certainly did that. They are in the block that is the center of the city, and if you go down far enough you get to the underground railway station.
Please don’t get me wrong. It is not an underground railway – just the central station is underground.
The building structure is extremely confusing, so the blood bank decided to make the way in highly visible. So they painted the stairs yellow, and placed a neon light on the street outside displaying the number 140.
Not only that, but when you near the top of the stairs you can see very large white letters on a red-for-blood background announcing the blood bank.
As a teenager I used to call in at blood banks that I passed on my cycling holidays, but you probably won’t want to do that if you are just visiting Perth.
So I’ll just tell you about the main difference from USA blood banks. Donors are not paid. The theory is that donors might lie about diseases if they were paid for donations. Transfusions from Perth blood banks are as safe as it is possible to make them using present technology.
Here is what you can expect if you make a donation.
First you fill in a lot of forms declaring that you have not had any of the listed disease, or had anyone in the family who has had them. You declare that you have not been abroad since last donation or visited Queensland. They measure your blood pressure and pulse regularity and take a hemoglobin count.
At last you go through and lie down. The nurse swabs your arm with a yellow paint. They know that no germicide kills 100% of microbes, so the paint is a quick-setting plastic. Bacteria are trapped as the paint hardens, so they can’t move to infect the needle wound. I think that’s a brilliant idea.
The glove-wearing nurse inserts a sterile needle that will only be used once, and tapes the tube to your arm. She then takes a batch of blood samples, so as to make sure that the donated blood will meet their very high standards.
Once all the samples have been collected she connects the tube from the needle to the machine.
The computer-driven machinery then takes over, and rings an alarm when it has collected enough.
At each stage of the proceedings a nurse asks you for your full name, address, and date of birth even if she recognizes you. A wrongly identified collection could kill someone.
This nurse is setting up the machine with new sterile disposable tubes etc. It is very complicated. I hope that robots will never take over from the nurses. The nurses know how to handle emergencies when the computer starts beeping for help.
The machine is continually weighing the collection. In this photograph an extra stage is involved. The bag is collecting plasma, and red blood cells extracted from the plasma are being returned to the donor.
At last the nurse holds the full collection bag for the photograph. But the job’s not done yet, even after the donor has had the needle-wound bandaged up.
Supposedly all the blood-wetted tubes etc are a dangerous source of infection. I don’t believe it. The blood tests would defy any infection to survive.
So the nurse finishes the job by removing all the disposables from the machine and disposing of them in the correct container.
Donors can then have a cup of tea and snacks, to replace the fluid collected. If it is lunchtime they offer you a more substantial meal to make sure that you don’t faint from lack of energy. It also allows time for donors to discover if the wound has started bleeding again. That is an emergency that happens on rare occasions and I wouldn’t trust to a robot!
Meanwhile,if you have friends with you, there are all sorts of little food places on the ground floor beneath. Here is an example.