Red Cell Reference Laboratory

The Red Cell Reference Laboratory has supported the transfusion service of the Bloodworks Northwest and served the Pacific Northwest as a regional reference laboratory for over 30 years. Routine red blood cell antibody identification and red blood cell antigen typing are performed using standard serologic techniques. Resolution of more complex antibody problems may require the use of advanced or supplemental serologic procedures. More than 10,000 tests are performed annually. As outlined in this directory, the Red Cell Reference Laboratory performs both individual tests and profiles that are involved in:

1. identification of red blood cell alloantibodies in individuals previously sensitized through transfusion or pregnancy, and selection of blood for transfusion management of such patients;

2. prevention of Rh (D) alloimmunization during pregnancy as well as guidance of prenatal and postnatal management of hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN);

3. evaluation of suspected hemolytic transfusion reactions;

4. diagnosis and transfusion management of patients with autoimmune hemolytic anemia; and

5. compatibility testing and antibody titration studies for potential donor/recipients of progenitor cells, bone marrow and solid organ transplants.

In addition to serologic testing, the Red Cell Reference Laboratory staff maintains and coordinates a frozen red blood cell program. The frozen red blood cell inventory consists of rare antigen negative units that are a source of compatible units for specific patients who have red cell alloantibodies against high-frequency antigens or multiple antigens.

The Red Cell Reference Laboratory is supervised by Renee Smith. The laboratory is staffed 24 hours per day, seven days a week with technical staff who are specially trained in advanced immunohematology techniques and procedures. Questions regarding specific tests or sample requirements can be answered by calling the laboratory at 206-689-6534. In addition, Dr. Theresa Nester is available for questions regarding the interpretation of laboratory results as well as medical consultation in any of the immunohematologic problems listed above. She can be reached at 206-689-6511.

The laboratory’s testing procedures meet the requirements, regulations and guidelines of the Food and Drug Administration and the American Association of Blood Banks. The quality assurance program consists of semi-annual competency assessment of all staff and subsequent competency assessment of staff prior to implementation of new procedures and tests, participation in the College of American Pathologists (CAP) blood banking proficiency testing program, analysis and trending of error and incident reports, participation in internal proficiency testing, daily and monthly review of QC testing, and participation in local, regional, and national continuing education programs.


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