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Blood drive will feature electron microscopes

Blood donors will be able to view electron images of red blood cells and the hypodermic syringe under a scanning electron microscope. (Photo Courtesy of Rich Martens)

Samuel Yang

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“I’ve been telling people they’re going to want to see that after they donate,” Central Analytical Facility Manager Rich ?Martens said.

Martens, a member of the rotary club, will be showing donors electron images of red blood cells and the hypodermic syringe under a scanning electron microscope, one of the facility’s nine major microscopes.

The CAF, which is supported by the Office of Research, often looks at materials engineering projects or investigates textiles. He said he hopes the tour will also open the eyes of donors to the “micro-cosmos” around them and serve as ?educational outreach.

“You can make a much higher resolution image than you’re going to get with a light microscope. You’re going to be able to go to a much higher magnification basically,” he said. “I bet you 99 percent of people have not seen an image like that.”

The rotary club’s motto is “Service Above Self” and has previously identified and met needs in the community through projects like grants for Northington Elementary and the Druid City Garden Project. After a visit from the Red Cross, Martens and the club decided to sponsor a blood drive.

“They said July was actually one of the most crucial months for blood,” he said.

Donna McClure, donor recruitment representative at the Red Cross, said the Red Cross works with sponsoring community groups to organize blood drives within their circle of influence.

“The only thing that that sponsor needs to do is lock down a location that fits the need, that fits our equipment and bring in the people,” she said. “Their main job is to bring in the people, and we bring in ?everything else.”

McClure said the last time the Red Cross reached a critical level was in the winter, after a series of storms. Tuesday, the Red Cross released an urgent call appealing to donors to help prevent an emergency situation.

“Summer is usually a critical time for us anyway. Students provide 26 percent of the blood we collect,” she said. “With them being on summer vacation, they’re not donating blood, and that’s a pretty ?substantial hit for our blood supply.”

Alicia Anger, Red Cross Alabama and central Gulf Coast blood services region external communications manager, said there has been no shortage in the Tuscaloosa area specifically, but the timing of the July 4th holiday this year led to a shortage of blood drives. According to a Red Cross press release, donations have been down ?approximately eight percent over the last ?11 weeks.

Martens and the rotary club, McClure said, have been fantastic sponsors and have provided an interesting building to have the drive in. McClure’s daughter attends the University, and Red Cross is the supplier for DCH in Northport.

“I feel like I’m just covering another hometown,” she said. “The community has been very, very supportive of the Red Cross and is always open.”

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Blood drive will feature electron microscopes