“True blood” vs. “Real blood” vs. “Synthetic Blood” [Event Recap]

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On June 12th, SCWIST hosted another successful Café Scientifque and had a stimulating discussion on the topic “True blood” vs. “Real blood” vs. “Synthetic Blood”! Dr. Gershon Growe and Dr. Maria Gyongyossy-Issa, two experts in hematology (the study of blood), gave us an overview of what vampires want, what transfusionists want and what blood is available in the blood supply.

Dr. Gershon Growe, a Medical Consultant of Canadian Blood Services’ BC & Yukon Centre, spoke to us about what types of blood we can donate. We can choose to donate whole blood, or “parts of our blood”! For donating platelets (blood cells which help stop bleeding) or plasma (liquid part of the blood), only your platelets or plasma are collected and the remaining components are returned to you.

Canadian Blood Services is now saving more lives by collecting stem cells, which we have learned a great deal from last Café [please read our event recap-Are Stem Cells the Future of Modern Medicine?]. Stem cells can divide and replace the defective cells when transplanted into patients. Through the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, a program of Canadian Blood Services, you can donate stem cells in your bone marrow and circulating blood.

If certain conditions prevent you from donating blood for transfusion, the good news is you can still donate for blood research. It will profoundly help scientists to find ways to increase the efficiency of storing various blood components!

Dr. Maria Gyongyossy-Issa, a member of UBC Centre for Blood Research, brought us back to the history of vampires and listed the top vampiric creatures in nature-bats, mosquitos and leeches! She then described how each of our main blood components has unique structure that helps perform amazing functions in our bodies.

Dr. Gyongyossy-Issa pointed out that because our blood is extremely complex, scientists can only make some components of our blood that fulfill some, but not all functions of the blood. For these reasons, real blood is irreplaceable. Consider donating your blood today – each donation can save up to three lives.

Over a relaxed and casual setting, the audience interacted with the speakers and asked great questions from “who can give blood?”, “can my pet donate blood?” to “why do some people attract mosquitoes more than others?”.

On behalf of SCWIST, we would like to thank our speakers, moderator Dr. Frances Lock and participants for another memorable evening of Science!

By Lee Ling Yang

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