Iraqi hospital’s blood lab serves critical role in daily operations
Mideast edition, Monday, April 30, 2007
BAGHDAD — At the 28th Combat Support Hospital, where doctors, nurses and medics treat scores of Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers on a weekly basis, there are few resources more critical than blood.
“This is the bread and butter of Iraq,” Spc. Carlos Martinez, 26, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., said Friday as he tested blood samples at the hospital’s blood bank.
In addition to supplying blood to the hospital’s operating rooms, Martinez and other medical lab techs routinely examine the blood of casualties to determine blood type, coagulant levels and blood chemistry in a matter of minutes. The techs also run tests on blood and urine for clues to a patient’s illness.
Across the hallway of the 28th CSH-operated Ibn Sina Hospital in Baghdad’s International Zone, technicians collect plasma and blood platelets — the stuff that makes blood clot — from donors. A device called a hemapheresis machine separates plasma and platelets from a donor’s blood and pumps red blood cells back into the body.
By using the machine, technicians can collect more of those materials than they can from donations of whole blood.
“I’m doing this because I know what it’s worth to a person who’s bleeding,” Col. Paul Dietrich, 57, of Staten Island, N.Y., said as he lay in the hospital’s donor room.
Dietrich, an oil and gas liaison officer assigned to the Coalition’s Energy Fusion Center, squeezed a rubber ball in his hand as plastic tubing carried blood from his arm into the machine and back.
“I also do it because I can,” he said.
There has been a surge in donors recently, but Staff Sgt. George Anderson, 30, of Philadelphia, said that dry spells are not uncommon.
“Some days we’re beating the woodwork for donors,” the lab technician said.