By: Alex Keilty, American Red Cross volunteer
The request arrives from a local Kaiser Permanente hospital just before lunch: a patient needs platelets STAT! “Stat” means immediately; if you watch hospital dramas, you might already know that. But this is no fictional TV show, it’s a real assignment for Nataly Breisath, a Hospital Services Tech in the American Red Cross blood lab in San José.
Nataly grabs a clear bag of the yellowish platelets from the agitator – a machine whose shelves slide back and forth constantly to keep the platelets full of oxygen. She packs the bag into a box bearing the Red Cross logo and marked “Rush: Keep at Room Temperature.” It will be driven to the hospital immediately.
Although the order form doesn’t say who the patient is or why they need platelets, that component of blood can be essential to surviving surgeries, fighting cancer, chronic diseases and traumatic injuries.
Is it stressful for Nataly fulfilling orders for blood products from local hospitals?
“There is usually some amount of pressure (and a little anxiety),” she says. “Even more so with stat orders.”
The most challenging ones are when orders for a massive transfusion protocol come into the lab – when a patient needs approximately 10 units of blood within 24 hours – which is roughly equivalent to the volume of blood in an average adult. It can be tough hearing details later on the news about a tragedy and figuring out that is what led to the transfusion. But Nataly says she is glad she can “possibly save their life and help with recovery.”
Although Nataly doesn’t meet the patients who receive the blood she prepares at the lab, she does know someone personally whose life was saved by blood donations, someone who had a “significant need after giving birth.” So Nataly knows for sure that giving blood saves lives.
Before blood can get to a hospital patient from a Red Cross lab it needs to undergo many steps:
Learn more about the blood donation journey:
Support all the urgent humanitarian needs of the American Red Cross.
Find a drive and schedule a blood donation appointment today.
Your time and talent can make a real difference in people’s lives. Discover the role that's right for you and join us today!