AABB talks antigens and antibodies with a Hogwarts twist

Oct. 20, 2021

The American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) annual conference, which ended Tuesday, included interactive workshops as well as traditional education sessions.

Adding a light-heartedness to the conference, in a session called the Wizardy School of Antigens and Antibodies, presenters dressed up, playing eerie music as they were introduced: Rebecca Coward, MT (ASCP)SBB, WakeMed Health and Hospital, Raleigh, NC; Jayanna Slayten, MS, MT (ASCP) SBBCM, Indiana University Health in Indianapolis; Monica Kalvelage, MT (ASCP)MB, SBB, LifeShare Blood Center, Shreveport, LA; and Sue Johnson, MSTM, MT(ASCP)MB, SCC CM, Versiti, Milwaukee, WI.

The Harry Potter themed event returned to the conference for the sixth time, according to AABB.

The Advanced Potions part of the course covered pediatric autoimmunity, such as Evan’s Syndrome, which makes up about 30% of hemolytic anemia in pediatrics. With the Hogwarts theme, patients are described as witches with real symptoms, and audience members voted on best methods for treatments after being presented with various case studies. The Transfiguration part of the class focused on what something is, rather than what it does, featuring a case of sickle cell disease with an antibody identification test, where audience members were asked about their standards for rule-ins and rule-outs when identifying antibodies. Some confessed they have favorite techniques, but said they must follow facility procedures. Explaining the relationships of genotypes and phenotypes, chemistry and philosophy, multiple options are explored, discussing the different approaches to treatment.

Tom Reardon, Senior Director, Operations Strategy, Abbott Transfusion, and Bill Block, President and CEO of Blood Centers of America, RI, took on another scary topic of emergency response and crisis management. Pointing out the importance of redundancy and repetitiveness to ensure that all bases are covered in case of emergency, they stress the importance of coming up with a business continuity plan to function without disruption. Reardon suggested monitoring safety stock levels, noting days on hand of inventory, watching global stock metrics, and planning for disaster with a command center. Block explained that being prepared might mean having flexible resources with cross-trained personnel that can do multiple things, having a pandemic plan in place, or ordering from multiple places. Block pointed to the escalated prices of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the current pandemic, noting the importance of forecasting inventory and order tracking, as well as recruiting new donors quickly during times of escalated need and tracking daily blood supplies.

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