Shadowing a DoctorJanuary 22, 2014
Specialists In Blood Bank (SBBs) technology work in blood donor centres, reference laboratories, transfusion services and research facilities performing routine as well as specialized blood tests. Although medical laboratory technicians and medical technologists also perform different types of blood tests, blood bank technology specialists undergo special training that enables them to perform a variety of specialized tests. One such test deals with the study of blood and its immunities, known as immunohematology.
Some of the duties of a blood bank technology specialist would include:
- Identifying differ rent blood types and antibodies
- Supervising the collection, separation, storage and delivery of blood components
- Managing patient blood
- Testing blood for viruses that might be transmitted during transfusion
- Offering support during blood transfusion therapy
- Investigating harmful reactions of the body to blood transfusion
Individuals certified as specialists in blood banking are conversant in all aspects of blood banking including tissue transplantation, transfusion medicine, molecular testing methods and hematopoietic, cellular and regenerative gene therapies;; and methods. There are certain standards established and put in place to ensure the safety and quality of blood products in blood banks, transfusion services and cellular therapies. Blood bank technology specialists use only those methodologies that conform to these internationally recognized standards.
Blood bank technology specialists are highly trained in these methodologies, which include:
- Investigating abnormalities such as adverse reactions to transfusion, haemolytic anaemia and haemolytic diseases in newborns
- Performing viral marker testing to ensure the safety of patients
- Testing for compatibility and blood group antigens
- Antibody identification
- Performing blood collection and processing, including donor selection, blood collection, blood typing and molecular testing
- Supporting physicians in transfusion therapy for patient undergoing organ and cellular transplantation/therapy or for whose suffering from diseases affecting blood clotting
SBBs are experts on a broad range of subjects, including immunology, genetics, collection and storage of blood and components, regulatory and quality systems, blood groups, component therapy, immune mechanisms, donor processing, transfusion of newborns, complications related to transfusion, general administration, education and automated data processing.
These specialists are also expected to be good at paying attention to detail since even the smallest difference can be crucial to a diagnosis. Manual dexterity and normal colour vision are highly desirable skills, and the widespread use of automated laboratory equipment means computer skills are also important.
Blood bank technology specialists serve in many roles within the transfusion medicine field ranging from laboratory administrators and regulatory experts to quality assessors and managers, technical/procedural advisors, researchers in transfusion medicine and educators for training in blood transfusion medicine. They are experienced in carrying out all operations of the blood bank, from routine testing to the most complex procedures. Most SBBs work as technical supervisors and laboratory managers and oversee reference laboratories. They may also be involved in teaching, consulting or research, teaching.
Blood bank technology specialists are employed by blood donor centres, transfusion services, laboratories, organ and tissue transplantation, reference laboratories and blood bank equipment suppliers.
Most work regular business hours, with the occasional night and weekend shift.
To become a blood bank technology specialist, you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree with a major in biology and microbiology or another biological or physical science. You will then need to obtain your certification as a medical technologist.
After college, you will need to enrol in an accredited, one-year specialised training program for certification or pursue a master’s degree in blood bank technology, also known as immunohematology, for 24 months.