Health Briefs:

MEDIC offers info on TRALI, needs female donors
Recently, in the news there has been misleading information regarding female blood donors.

Information about a transfusion related illness known as TRALI (Transfusion Related Acute Lung Injury) has led to some uncertainty among our blood donors, specifically our female donors.

TRALI is a reaction that can occur in the lungs resulting in acute lung injury when plasma products containing antibodies to white blood cells are transfused to a patient. Blood donations are split into components: red cells, plasma and platelets.
Plasma is the liquid part of the blood and the part that can carry the antibodies that cause TRALI. How do donors get these antibodies to white blood cells in their plasma? The usual cause is that during pregnancy, a few of the baby’s white cells cross over into the mother and the mother develops antibodies to them.

Generally, the more pregnancies, the more antibodies the mother will have. About 15-20 percent of women who have had
multiple pregnancies will have significant levels of these antibodies to white blood cells. The antibodies do no harm to mother, baby or the vast majority of people who encounter them in a transfusion. However, there is a small percentage that it does affect and Medic always protects the safety of the blood supply — both from the donor’s standpoint as well as the patient’s.

"It is important to note that TRALI does not affect red cells; therefore, it is perfectly safe for all females to give whole blood donations. In fact, it is vital to the community’s blood supply since more women than men give blood!" states Medic’s Medical Director, Lynn Blake, M.D.

Why are we only now hearing about TRALI? It has only been in recent years (last 10-12) that TRALI has been recognized as a specific entity. TRALI frequently occurs in otherwise acutely ill patients who need plasma-containing transfusions to treat their other serious problems. Frequently these patients are in Intensive Care Units. Many other things are going on with these patients, and TRALI is not recognized as something different. Physicians are now being taught to be on the look-out for it, and how to recognize and diagnose it. Physicians are supposed to notify the supplier of the plasma-containing products when a case of TRALI is diagnosed or suspected.

Again, it is important to stress that women are indeed encouraged to give whole blood since TRALI is not transfused through red blood cells and can only be transfused through plasma.

Donors must be at least 17 years of age, weigh more than 110 pounds and have positive identification.
Community blood drives this week are:

  • Feb. 7, Beech Grove Baptist Church, 1519 Topside Road, 2 p.m. – 8 p.m., Medic Mobile.

Good Health Connection holds heart month series

  • February, Blount Memorial Hospital’s Medical Fitness Center offers participants a 10-part lecture series focusing on heart health for American Heart Month.

The series begins on Monday, Feb. 5 from 3-4 p.m. with Blount Memorial cardiologist Dr. Peter Scott presenting a program titled "Congestive Heart Failure."

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, from noon to 1 p.m., Blount Memorial endocrinologist Dr. Aaron Bussey will host "Heart Disease and Diabetes."

Blount Memorial cardiologist Dr. Michael Gallagher presents "Cardiac Testing" on Friday, Feb. 9 from noon - 1 p.m.

On Monday, Feb. 12 from noon – 1 p.m., Blount Memorial cardiologist Dr. Taylor Weatherbee will present a program on "New Heart Research."

From noon - 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14, Blount Memorial cardiologist Dr. Philip Hoffman will host "Questions and

Answers," a session where participants are encouraged to bring questions on heart health, medication and cardiovascular disease.

Friday, Feb. 16 from 1-2 p.m. is a presentation titled "Beta Blockers" presented by Blount Memorial pharmacist Rachel

Cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Thomas Pollard discusses "Open Heart Surgery" from 3-4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

Blount Memorial cardiologist Dr. Stephen Kiefer will offer a presentation on "Atrial Fibrillation" on Friday, Feb. 23 from noon to 1 p.m.

The series will conclude with a presentation on "Things That Go Bump in Your Chest" by electrophysiologist Dr. Bill Lindsay on Monday, Feb. 26 from 3-4 p.m.

All sessions will be in the Blount Memorial Medical Fitness classroom on the hospital’s 2-east floor and are free to the community. Call Medical Fitness at 865-977-5636 for information.

Sheppard is BMH’s January employee of the month
Marcus Sheppard is Blount Memorial Hospital’s January employee of the month. Working in the hospital’s emergency department, Sheppard is a licensed practical nurse and emergency medical technician.

He has been with Blount Memorial for four years and not only shows compassion and generosity toward patients, but also toward his co-workers.

Sheppard enjoys the variety of his job and his supervisor says, "He has a way about him that puts the patient at ease even in the most stressful situations. He is a team player, and is not afraid to help any of his co-workers without being asked."

One of his most-memorable experiences on the job was being there to comfort family members when a patient passed away. The hospital later received a letter from the son thanking Sheppard for his genuine act of kindness.

Outside of the workplace, Sheppard enjoys sailing and shooting. He is a member of the Tennessee Disaster Medical Assistance team and K9-SAR.

Sheppard is a native of Warrington, England and currently resides in Maryville.

Class in session for joint replacemment patients
Blount Memorial Hospital’s "Joint School," an educational program for people scheduled to undergo total joint replacement surgery, is being offered at the hospital during February. Classes meet from 12:30-3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Feb. 7, 14, 21 and 28.

Sessions let participants know what to expect during their total joint replacement experience, and information covers all phases from pre-op to full recovery. Reservations are required and must be made by calling Maryville Orthopedic Clinic at 865-984-0900.

Diabetes Management courses at BMH in February
Blount Memorial Hospital offers morning and evening classes in diabetes management in February. Physician referral and an initial evaluation are required prior to attending a class session. The classes are recognized by the American Diabetes Association and covered by most insurance carriers.

A two-day morning class series meets from 8 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Feb. 6 and 8 or Feb. 27 and March 1 at the Blount Memorial Wellness Center at Springbrook.

A three-day evening class series meets Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Feb. 20, 21 and 22 or Feb. 27 and 28 and March 1 from 6-9 p.m. at Blount Memorial Hospital. Each participant may bring one guest to any of the classes. For information, call the Diabetes Management Center at 977-5767.

Wellness Center offers kids programs to community
The Blount Memorial Wellness Center at Springbrook’s "Especially for Kids" program is open to both members’ and non-members’ children.

The center’s program is filled with fitness-based classes for 6- to 12-year-olds. Members’ kids pay the WellKid rate per class, and for non-members’ kids, the cost of each class is $5.

"WellKid Swim" starts at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Feb. 6, 13, 20 and 27. The class also meets on Thursdays, Feb. 1, 8, 15 and
22 at 7 p.m.

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