Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Fun-a-day 12: Fetal hemoglobin stain, and WIP
OK Babies are fun! One of my favorite "special stains" to do in the lab was a "Kleihauer-Betke Stain" (KLB). It stains only red blood cells from fetuses or newborn infants (that contain fetal hemoglobin). The stain is an incredibly vibrant hot pink that's a lot of fun to look at. We do it on an "Rh negative" blood type mother, when there has been a confirmed fetal-maternal bleed that surpasses the "normal" amount that a regular dose of "Rhogam" would take care of. Make sense? I didn't think so. Rhogam is a drug, created to prevent a potentially horrible condition called "hemolytic disease of the newborn", luckily a disease that has been mostly wiped out due to Rhogam. This happens when an Rh negative mother carries an Rh positive baby, and is exposed to their blood, usually at birth. The first baby is fine, but because of the exposure, the mother will develop antibodies, or disease-fighting proteins that target and destroy future Rh positive blood cells, so if she becomes pregnant again with an Rh positive baby, the mothers immune system can literally attack its blood cells. Rhogam prevents this from happening by binding up all of the Rh positive fetal or baby blood cells before her body can detect them. I hope that makes sense.
When we do a KLB Stain, we determine by actually counting the number of fetal cells (seen as bright pink) vs the number of maternal (the mom's) cells (see in the black as thin rings, because the stain lyses them). We give this to blood bank, who then can determine how many additional vials of Rhogam to give to the patient.
I have a personal story about Rhogam. It was first used in Spring of 1968, just a few months after my twin brother and I were born. My mom is A neg, I'm O pos, my brother O neg. After birth I had severe jaundice (which can be a sign of hemolytic disease of the newborn), and was given a complete blood exchange transfusion. My brother was not. I know my parents tried years later to have more children, and my mom never got pregnant, so I often wonder if this exposure happened with my mom.
On another note, I'm linking up with "Freshly Pieced" blog's WIP Wed. I thought I'd show you what else I've been working on. I made some Kindle covers for gifts for Christmas, and the response was so good that I decided I'd try to see some. Here's what my kitchen counter looks like today. You can see my sewing set up in the background... I use our dining room table to sew on. I do a lot of shuffling things around here!
My "design wall" (ie our bed) has a quilt that I'm itching to finish. I started it in October, then put it away for after Christmas. It's a "twisted 9 patch" quilt that was so easy to make, looks great, and all I have to do is sew the blocks and rows together. Hopefully today, because my bed is also where I fold clothes and I have about 4 loads going today.