August 2010

Scarlett Likes to Shop as Much as the Next Blood Drop

By Scarlett O'Negative

Recently I went shopping for liver. I know, yucky stuff, but Sunny likes it. I asked Sunny why he likes liver so much and he said it’s something to do with his platelet heritage. I guess platelets, and little old me (RBCs), are used many, many times during liver transplants. Who would have known?

Sunny told me that, if a liver transplant goes awry, up to 500 blood products may be transfused at one time. Wow, I said, that’s my entire graduating class at Heme High. My human friends at Stanford Blood Center told me that Stanford Hospital has one of the most important solid organ transplant programs in the human kingdom. I’m impressed!

Speaking of shopping, my agent will give a pair of movie tickets to the first two people to guess which shopping center I was hanging out at in this picture below!

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The Spirits in Blood

By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin’s Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center

Back in 1668 when there were a few experiments of blood transfusions from sheep into humans, the reason for doing this wasn't that sheep were plentiful or made good blood donors (no malaria travel), but they thought that the blood from a gentle creature might quiet the "tempestuous spirit of an agitated person." You probably know one of those people that could use some sheep blood…

It was also thought that the shy might be made more outgoing by the blood of more sociable creatures...dogs probably, high spirited ones like Chihuahuas and Golden Retrievers. Their donor history questions might have gone something like this: "When was the last time you bit anyone?" "Do you have a history of rabies or heart worms?" "Have you received any vaccinations against parvo?" "Do you feel well today, any kennel cough?" Woof!

Sizzling Scarlett

By Scarlett O'Negative

Summer’s finally hotting up but I’m as cool as ever. Every now and again my human compatriots throw a great party for blood donors. They recently hosted the annual O Party in all three Stanford Blood Center locations. Even though it says O (the most popular blood group), the festivities were open to all donors.

Check me out below. I’m with a couple of blood donors who were about to enjoy a great barbeque of hot dogs, hamburgers, buns, and sides at the Mountain View Center event – can you spot me? There are more pics on our Flickr page and if you haven’t seen our Flickr page, you’re missing out on some of the great events that the blood center has done.

My agents will give a pair of movie tix to the first two people to guess what gift the blood center gave out to all donors at the O Party. Please post your answers below in the “comments” section.


Sweet Scarlett Gets Sweeter

By Scarlett O'Negative

My favorite place to hang out with blood donors is in the canteen. Does it show? My human colleagues make a point of ensuring that donors get the two R’s: Rest and Refreshments, before going on their way. This means yummy cookie and juices.

The kind person who oversees this is often a volunteer and the blood center couldn’t work without them. They not only look after the donors but also work on mobile blood drives and many other wonderful duties. If you or someone you know would like to volunteer at Stanford Blood Center, contact Tessa Moore - 650-723-6795. Students – this will look great on your college application.

My agents will give a pair of AMC movie tickets to the first two people to post the location of my recent sugar high.


I Tried to Donate an Organ but There Were Strings Attached…

By Scarlett O'Negative

Last week I went down to the local music shop fully intending to donate an organ. I also brought along a couple of Gibson guitars and a lute. I didn’t understand why the shop assistants were rolling in laughter. I guess I misunderstood what this organ donation thing was all about. So I started looking into it and the light bulb in my blood droppy head went off – it’s about saving lives, not saving musical instruments – duh! I didn’t need to look very far.

Apparently my colleagues at Stanford Blood Center have partnered with the California Transplant Donor Network (CTDN) to further save lives. This is what our guest blogger and CTDN project manager, Sandy Andrada, has to say:

The CTDN saves and improves lives by facilitating organ and tissue donation for transplantation. The CTDN helps 175 hospitals in 41 Northern and Central California and Northern Nevada counties offer the option of organ and tissue donation to families whose loved ones have died. They also coordinate deceased organ recovery and placement, and provide public education with the hope that every resident will become a donor.

In its public education efforts, the CTDN inspires Californians to register their wish to be an organ and tissue donor on the Donate Life California Donor Registry either at the DMV or through

The California Transplant Donor Network is federally designated as the region's organ recovery organization. For information, visit or call (888) 570-9400.For more information on becoming a donor and the Donate Life California Donor Registry, visit or call (866) 797-2366.

Sandy, I couldn't have said it better myself. Speaking of musical instruments, I borrowed this lovely guitar from my pal, Bob Sherman.



The Cast: Bob Sherman

By Erin Crager, Marketing Intern, Stanford Blood Center

A deafening whistle cuts through the crisp morning air of Stanford Blood Center’s (SBC) parking lot, on par with the ear piercing fire alarm that’s just led to the congregation of the staff. The drill has brought all departments together for an unplanned meeting and the sharp sound quickly quells any conspicuous casual conversations. Just as briefly as Bob Sherman has elected to emit this ephemeral yet effective note for acquiring everyone’s attention, he steps aside, almost as if he were politely holding the door for someone, and gives the floor to Patti of QA, who quickly proceeds to recruit her department for roll call.

Bobs ability to command the attention of large groups in an instant works well for how he spends much of his spare time. When he’s not overseeing operations as SBC’s Finance Manager, Bob’s been sounding a different kind of whistle as a soccer referee trainer. He’s ref’d various youth leagues for 19 years and for the last 12 has been referee liaison to the San Jose Earthquakes, ensuring all referees’ needs are taken care of on game days.

Bob’s also been drawing attention since the age of six when he picked up both guitar and bass guitar. Once a diehard fanatic of The Clash, The Ramones, and Dead Kennedys, his musical tastes have moved from punk in the direction of folk. His current band favors Beatles tunes and is now rehearsing weekly with plans to perform during the holidays.

As Finance Manager at SBC, Bob has played a crucial role in advising upper management, setting up procedures/controls, putting together dashboard reports for each department’s operational and financial stats and, of course, blowing the whistle on any potential overspending.

Stephen Schneider, a Noble Nobel

By Kevin O'Neill, Business Development Specialist, Stanford Blood Center

Stanford Blood Center had the privilege of hosting Dr. Stephen Schneider at a bi-monthly Cafe Scientifique discussion to share his unique perspective as both a climate studies expert and a cancer patient. As the host, I was on the lookout to greet and orient him to our protocol. I was surprised to discover him at a break room table partaking of lab staff pot luck! I found his informality and spontaneity enchanting, as did the staff!

Having read his “The Patient from Hell” treatise on his experience going through successful cancer treatment, I was well versed in the chronology of that ordeal. What most impressed me about its insights was two fold. First, because of his credentials as an accomplished scientist & a Stanford professor, he wasn’t intimidated to question his physicians about the logic behind his treatment protocols. Although initially surprised to be challenged by a patient, his doctors, in time, did grapple with his reasoning, and ultimately changed how they executed certain treatment protocols. Secondly, his winning reasoning was based upon rudimentary logic, leaving me with the question as to why illogical protocols would have been followed for so long seemingly without challenge from within or without the medical community.

Regarding his Nobel Prize-winning work on climate change, his pictures and presentation of data were irrefutably persuasive. However, my new learning on this topic that evening came in the area of understanding the opposition to the case for the phenomenon of global warming. He pointed out that with the common acceptance of the global warning case, oil-rich nations stand to lose not million of dollars, nor billions of dollars, but trillions of dollars. This truth underscored the enormous challenge facing the scientific community in its quest to remedy this ominous course our planet is heading towards. Stephen Schneider made profound contributions to the areas of cancer treatment protocols & the case for global warning that I am familiar with. No doubt these represent only a fraction of his scientific contributions to humankind. His loss will be manifest across his innumerable areas of professional interest.

For a closer look at Dr. Schneider's life and accomplishments, see this article, beautifully written by John Unger Zussman, PhD.

Kaname 650 Adopts Sunny's Niece, Minnie

By Scarlett O'Negative

Congratulations to Kaname650, who came to us via Twitter and answered correctly the question as to where I was getting on the train last week. California Avenue it was.

Kaname is donating platelets today at our Campus Center and when he gets there he'll discover that Sunny's niece, Minnie D. Light, will be waiting for him to adopt her. Watch out, she's a handful, but she has a heart of gold.

It’s a Census Year and Scarlett is Counting on You

By Scarlett O'Negative

I would like to protest - the media constantly talks about humans getting counted every 10 years in this country, but what about the important red blood cells? What are we: chopped liver? Our numbers make the US human population pale in comparison.

It’s a Census Year and Scarlett is Counting on You. Red blood cells unite. Viva la erythrocytic census!

In an average human female there are 4.2 to 5.4 million red blood cells per microliter. That’s just in one body. Can you imagine how many there are like me in the entire population? In my male partners in crime there are 4.7 to 6.1 million red blood cells per microliter. Wow!

An RBC count, which is usually part of a CBC test, can tell you many useful things, including an assessment if a person has anemia, which is the number one reason people get deferred from donating blood. Can anyone guess the second?

I'm going to introduce a new word in every post which sums me up. Can anyone tell me which local eatery I was gormandizing at in this photo?

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Scarlett is Waiting on a Train

By Scarlett O'Negative

Last time we spoke I told you how I like to stay busy. You know, circulate. And then it occurred to me that Stanford Blood Center is a great place to start a local hospital tour! What a great time to get out and about and see where I’m most needed. And what better way to get around to all the hospitals we serve than by train! A red girl like me does appreciate green modes of transport.

I met this very nice train conductor who helped me get on and off of Caltrain. I think he took a shine to me!

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I visited Stanford, LPCH, El Camino (Mountain View and Los Gatos), PAMF, O’Connor, and the VA (Palo Alto and Livermore). Exhausting! I couldn’t go near these places without somebody saying, “Hey Scarlett, we need you!” Make no mistake, red cells like me are very popular.

Can anybody tell which station I was at in this picture?

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The Cast: Patti is Oarsome!

By Erin Crager, Marketing Intern, Stanford Blood Center

A six person outrigger canoe glides into the harbor of Bair Island Aquatic Center on the west side of San Francisco Bay. It’s after dark and the crew is recovering from an intense training session. Patti sits up front in the number one seat where, for the last three hours, she’s set the pace of the boat. Rowing in an outrigger canoe requires stamina and good technique to ensure a smooth, effective performance.

Parallels can be drawn between Patti’s role in the number one seat and her role as manager of Stanford Blood Center’s (SBC) Quality Assurance (QA) Department where she sees to it that all operations at SBC feel like smooth sailing. Keeping the blood center in compliance with safety regulations by monitoring blood donation, processing, storage procedures, evaluating the work of staff members and reviewing records are just some of the ways Patti and her colleagues (or her QA crew) help to make sure the SBC boat doesn’t rock.

Patti has competed in Olympic standard races in Sacramento, San Francisco Bay, and in Kona, Hawaii in the Queen Liliuokalani, an 18 mile race around the southern part of the island that attracts world class athletes from all over the world. Her dedication and work ethic in the canoe seems to show just as well, if not better, at the office.

Scarlett Is An Overworked Iron Woman

By Scarlett O'Negative

I belong to an exclusive group which does important body work. We deliver oxygen to the blood 24/7 – beat that Fedex and UPS! This weekend was particularly busy because a bunch of blood donors were a little low on their hemoglobin counts, which could mean that they might not be able to donate. So my many friends and I, (there are millions of us in the group) worked all weekend to help bring up the levels. Sunny is so mad at me - we were supposed to go to see the movie, Inception.

Can you help me tell these donors that some foods help raise iron levels in the blood? Believe it or not, cream of wheat is best.

I did find time out for a nap. Anyone know where I was?


Introducing Sunny D. Light –Thrombocytic Heartthrob


By Scarlett O'Negative

The handsome fellow sitting beside me is my boyfriend, Sunny D. Light. You may have noticed that he has a lighter complexion than I, which he gets from being a platelet. As platelets help your blood clot, he’s a very busy and important young man indeed.

I don’t see Sunny as much as I’d like, because he’s always at the hospital. Work, work, work! But that’s what I love about him, his selflessness. If only we could find more of his kind – there just never seem to be enough platelets spinning their way through the donor room. If anyone knows where we could find more platelets like him, please let me know. I only have eyes for Sunny, but patients have needs for many! Oh, did I mention that a platelet donor must be a whole blood donor first?

My agent will give two movie tickets to the first two people who correctly guesses Sunny’s middle name. Clue: Platelet donations come in more than one form.

From the Lab to the Lagoon

By Erin Crager, Marketing Intern, Stanford Blood Center

Jan Webster: super supervisor in the lab, avian adventurer in the field

Jan Webster runs the testing on all blood collected in Stanford Blood Center’s (SBC) processing department. This is the place where she and her staff test every unit of blood with state-of-the-art technology and meticulous observational powers. For relaxation, Jan uses a similar set of skills.

Jan first got roped into birding when she agreed to let a group of friends borrow her car. She went along for the ride thinking she’d just read a book or keep them company while they were out. She had no intention of looking for any of the birds they’d come to see but after some convincing agreed to take a gander at four brown smudges her friends had spotted on a distant hill. Those smudges turned out to be bald eagles, and through her friends high powered binoculars she could see every last detail of each bird. She was hooked. Jan started birding with a $39 pair of binoculars from Walmart. Once she realized how serious she was about her new hobby, she purchased a $2000 pair of Leicas known for their high powered lenses. Her motivation to see every detail when birding may have come from her meticulous tendencies in the lab. When Jan first came to SBC she was instrumental in upgrading the testing equipment to improve accuracy and efficiency. Today, the current instruments used, some of which are valued at upwards of half a million dollars, are key in allowing Jan and other lab workers to make the precise observations necessary to ensure the safety and quality of the blood donated.

As Blood Donations Dip, Scarlett Takes a Dive

By Scarlett O'Negative

Hi everyone out there in the blogosphere. My family contributes so much to saving lives and keeping people healthy that I thought I should set a good example and get in shape myself.

I’ve never been very athletic but I always thought that diving would be cool. The Stanford Diving team were quite impressed with me but told me that before they could consider me for their team, I had to have some actual diving experience. As I’m not that keen on water, I thought I’d go for land diving. It turns out that this wasn’t too bright, and I was faced with a sudden sense of reality on impact. Nonetheless, two movie tix will go to the first two people who can guess where I made my inaugural dive. Just leave your answers in the comments section below and my agent will get back to the winners.

Oh hey, before you do that, let me leave you with 3 reasons why I'm good for your health:

  • I carry oxygen from the lungs to the tissues around your body.
  • I am a key player in getting waste carbon dioxide from your tissues to your lungs, where it can be breathed out.
  • I play a part in the body's immune response.
Ok, go!


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