Laboratory Medicine Team, Blood Donors Get Job Done

Three patients received kidney transplants at UC Davis Health last weekend after quick work by the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine to meet a new COVID-19 testing requirement.

And, with a looming blood shortage amid the coronavirus crisis, UC Davis Health employees quickly registered for all the available spots in an emergency blood drive to be held this week.

Transplant success


Last weekend, doctors had three patients waiting for kidney transplants and three kidneys from deceased donors, only to be confronted by a new regulation — the kidneys needed to be tested for COVID-19.

The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine rose to the occasion, working extra shifts to develop in-house testing and getting it done within five hours. The results for all three kidneys: negative.

“Our lab scientists had to do a double shift to get this urgent run in,” said Nam Tran, associate clinical professor in the department. “It’s what we do.”

With the testing complete, the organs were ready for transplant — and the kidney recipients received the life-saving operations that they had been waiting for. These were transplant surgeries that may not have been possible without the quick turnaround testing and coordinated teamwork at UC Davis Health. 

“The availability of the COVID-19 test enabled us to do these transplants in the safest possible setting,” said Rick Perez, chief of transplant surgery, who performed the transplants.

— Tricia Tomiyoshi, UC Davis Health

Emergency blood drive

When UC Davis Health and the American Red Cross put out a call late last week for blood donors, it was mostly UC Davis Health employees and affiliates who quickly filled all 138 time slots for the two-day drive to be held Wednesday and Thursday on the Sacramento campus.

The blood is not for coronavirus patients, but to make up for a decline in donations due to the cancellation of blood drives in the community.

Organizers of this week’s blood drive at UC Davis Health assured the event will follow social distancing guidelines. Preregistration allowed the organizers to regulate the number of people giving blood at the same time.

As for the stay-at-home order? The U.S. surgeon general declared last week: “You can still go out and give blood. ... Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.”

This week’s collection will help ensure an adequate supply for the community. People interested in donating at future blood drives can find them listed by ZIP code on the Red Cross Blood Services website.

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