Medical Minute April 9
Eating broccoli may keep cancer at bay, bad habits today may
lead to weight gain later in life and there’s a good reason for you
to hit the snooze button.
According to a study presented at an annual meeting for cancer
research, women who had cancer and also ate about a cup of broccoli
a day were more likely to live longer and less likely to have the
cancer return. Cauliflower, brussel sprouts and kale also produced
a similar effect.
Harvard researchers have found that just a few bad habits such
as watching too much television, drinking a sugary soda at lunch or
staying up too late can pack on the pounds later in life. However,
since the weight gain is gradual, it’s been difficult for the
researchers and the subjects themselves to pinpoint specific
factors that may have lead to the weight gain.
The American Academy of Sleep says getting enough sleep is as
crucial to survival as eating. They say lack of sleep causes a
hosts of health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity,
depression, irregular hormone production, a weakened immune system,
memory lapse, constant irritability, as well as decreased
concentration and reaction time.
Vera Memorial Drive
On February 2, 2012, University High School student Brandon Vera
did something he normally did not do-walk to school.
Brandon’s father, Wilfred Vera typically drove the teen to school
in the morning, but his car broke down and despite his father’s
protests, he walked to school. Unfortunately, he never made it.
Brandon was hit and killed by a car while crossing a street in
His devastated father wanted to do something positive in honor
of his son and since the accident traffic lights and school signs
have gone up in the area in the hope of saving lives.
University High students, faculty and staff held a two-day blood
drive in honor of Brandon. His classmates said they felt good
knowing they were saving lives in honor of their friend. They also
shared fond memories of Brandon and wrote messages to his family
while on the Big Red Bus.
Wilfred said his son had wanted to donate blood, but he didn’t
have the chance. He said other schools and organizations in the
area expressed an interest in holding additional blood drives in
honor of Brandon.
Together Florida’s Blood Centers and University High School
helped save nearly 300 lives in honor of Brandon Vera.
Importance of O-Negative Blood
If you’re a blood donor I’m sure you are well aware that we are
in constant need of O-negative blood. But, do you know why
it’s in such high demand?
O-negative blood is considered universal, which means it can go
to anyone. It’s often used in emergency situations when there
isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type.
Our local trauma centers are prepared to deal with tragedy 24
hours a day, seven days a week. Their medical professionals
have to be ready to spring into action in a moments notice when
there is an accident or a shooting or an emergency
situation. Having a well-stocked blood supply is critical to
keeping our trauma centers up and running and having O-negative
blood at physicians finger tips can mean the difference between
life and death.
When high school student Nate Winters was thrown off a boat
and was run over by its propeller he thought he was going to
die. By the time paramedics got him to the hospital he had
already lost 80% of the blood in his body. Doctors in the
emergency room immediately transfused him with five units of
O-negative blood and that saved his life.
Only 7% of the population has O-negative blood and while they
may be considered the universal donor, when it comes to being a
recipient no other type of blood will do.
Randy Bragg learned that lesson very quickly. When Bragg
developed a condition called cardiomyopathy and then congestive
heart failure he needed a heart transplant. Doctors told him
he needed a heart from an O-negative donor because he has
Bragg lucked out when a heart donor came through in just six
months, but this was far from being the end of the
road. Surgeons transplanted the new heart, but couldn’t get it
to start. They tried for five hours with no
success. Eventually they had to tell his family that Bragg’s
only chance of survival was to have another O-negative heart donor
come through immediately.
Miraculously, another heart turned up. This time it was in
Tennessee. The transplant team flew to Tennessee, while Bragg
was on the table, and brought the heart back to Florida. This
time it started right up. He had been on bypass for more than
18 hours and he received 29 units of O-negative blood.
Bragg admits before this happened he had not been a blood donor,
but as soon as doctors gave him the go ahead, he rolled up his
sleeve and gave the gift of life to a fellow O-negative blood
Trauma patients and O-negative patients aren’t the only ones in
need of O-negative blood. Premature babies often receive
O-negative blood when there is no time to determine their blood
type. Premature babies can often be anemic and may need blood
If you are part of the 7% with O-negative blood it’s crucial
that you donate and help keep our hospitals up and running and save
lives in our community.
Minute March 27, 2012
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine
finds that gastric bypass surgery may be the beginning of a cure
for type-two diabetes. This may not be surprising because obesity
is a major risk factor for type-two diabetes. However, findings
presented at the annual meeting of the American College of
Cardiology shows that many diabetic patients showed signs of
improvement shortly after surgery, even before losing weight. Many
researchers believe that the operation somehow sets off massive
changes in the body’s hormones, but what and how remains to be
This may sound too good to be true, but those who eat chocolate
tend to be thinner. This is according to a new study published in
the journal Archives of Medicine. These findings suggest that
something in chocolate may make the calories you consume less
likely to be deposited as fat, but don’t raid the candy shop too
fast. Researchers have only found an association between people who
eat chocolate and body mass index, not a cause and effect
Germaphobes beware…Harvard researchers have found that exposure
to germs early in life may be good for your health. That’s
according to a new study published in the journal Science. The
researchers found that mice exposed to common microbes early in
life were actually healthier than those not exposed. They
discovered that exposing the mice to these germs helped activate
their immune system appropriately and train it to not over-react
when it comes in contact with other germs later in life.
for Blood 2012
To say that the Haven in Winter Park was rocking on Saint
Patrick’s Day is an understatement. Five bands from across Central
Florida jammed on stage while their fans battled for blood off
For the third year in a row, Florida’s Blood Centers teamed up
with Anyone’s Guess for Rock for Blood, a battle of the bands style
Event organizer Clint Chambers says, “We call it a competition
for lack of better words, but really they’re all just involved in
the project to help out. We wanted to create an event that tied in
with the community and gave everybody an opportunity to help other
people, while helping the bands with performing and networking and
getting to know each other and working together as musicians.”
Watership Sounds vocalist Albert Gonzalez knows first-hand how
important blood donors are to the community. He says, “I personally
have experience with blood donation because of my father who
suffered from cancer and had a hard time recovering from surgery
and all that and he lost a lot of blood and if it wasn’t for all
the people donating for him, he probably wouldn’t have made
In the end, Blaine the Mono ended up winning the battle of the
bands, but the real winners are the patients in our local hospitals
who will receive the blood collected.
Together Florida’s Blood Centers and Rock For Blood helped save
approximately 100 lives!
Dames Out For Blood
Roller derby is definitely a contact sport and when the Orlando
Psycho City Derby girls hit the rink they are out for
The Orlando Psycho City Derby girls are teaming up with
Florida’s Blood Centers for a blood drive on March 25 outside the
Semoran Skateway in Casselberry.
Heather Lyles of the Sunnyland Slammers knows how important it
is to have blood on hand in case of an emergency. Her mother needed
multiple units of blood after suffering internal injuries following
a car accident.
Fellow derby girl Jessica Shefferman also knows the importance
of blood donation. She battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as a child and
while she never received blood she saw many patients in the
hospital that did need blood from donors to sustain life.
It’s been ten years since she won her battle with cancer and
she’s proud to see her fellow derby girls getting on the Big Red
Bus and giving the gift of life.
Rachel Pereira is still in the recruitment stage of the derby
process, but is a regular blood donor and hopes derby fans will get
on the Big Red Bus on March 25. She says, “ The life I save could
be mine, especially now that I’m in Derby, if I get injured or
maimed in some way, seriously the life I save could be my own.”
Pereira also volunteers with the Leukemia & Lymphoma
Society’s “Team in Training” and it’s had a huge impact on
her decision to be a regular blood donor.
“When you work with people battling blood cancers, it really
helps motivate me…I’m perfectly healthy, five minutes of my time to
donate blood, you know, a couple of hours to do a platelet
donation…I’m lucky, other people aren’t as lucky.”
Survivor Inspires Baseball Fans
Blink and you might have missed Matt Myers return to the
pitcher’s mound during a Houston Astros spring training game.
Myers is a senior at Seminole High School who excelled at
baseball and made the varsity team by the time he was a sophomore.
During an after-school practice in 2011 Myers hurt his leg. He
thought he may have twisted his leg or suffered a pulled muscle,
but a trip to the doctor revealed that Myers had a form of cancer
called osteosarcoma last year.
He went from being at the top of his game to fighting for his
life in a hospital room. Myers underwent surgery and chemotherapy
and relied on blood from donors to pull through.
Myers said, “They got me up the day after the surgery and tried
to get me to walk and I just had a cold sweat and I just…didn’t
feel good at all and after the blood transfusion it made me feel
Now, approximately one year later, Myers is inspiring blood
donors to roll up their sleeves before Houston Astros spring
training game by throwing out the first pitch.
Myers got some tips from the pros and wowed the crowd when he
took the pitcher’s mound.
Myer’s mother also got on the Big Red Bus so she could help
someone in the local hospital the way other donors helped her
Like many teenage girls, Karli can often be
found with her cell phone glued to her hand, but it wasn’t that
long ago when seemingly typical teen was in the fight of her
In October 2010 Karli felt a lump in her leg. She and her family
through it was just a pulled muscle, but when the lump didn’t fade
her parents took her to the doctor where Karli was diagnosed with
osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor.
Though she was just ten years old Karli says she wasn’t sacred
because being scared would just make things worse.
Karli spent the next few months in and out of the hospital
undergoing chemotherapy and receieving multiple blood and platelet
Dr. Robert Sutphin is a Pediatric Hematology Oncologist at Arnold
Palmer Hospital in Orlando. He says, “Having Florida’s Blood
Centers available for the treatment of cancers is vitally
important. Blood transfusions are an important part of what we do
and it allows the children to resume a normal lifestyle. It allows
us to bring their blood levels up to safe levels for additional
chemotherapy which is the real important part of their
Karli says the blood and platelets from donors helped her feel
better during the course of her treatment. She says, “People don’t
understand like just how much it makes you feel better. You’ll be
lightheaded and nauseous and just feel really grubby and then once
you get the infusion you feel just like normal.”
Karli is doing much better today. She’s 13 years old and will be a
freshman in high school soon. Her father is spearheading the 2012
Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Associations Summer Challenge
Blood Drive to help other patients going through the same
experience as his daughter.
Run for Life
The boys of summer are back and for the
Boston Red Sox that means a brand new spring-training home.
Thousands of Red Sox fans flocked to the new Jet Blue Park in Fort
Myers to welcome players and see what’s being dubbed as “Fenway
Clad in a sea of blue and red, fans posed for photographs with
Wally, got autographs from players and many proved they really do
bleed blue and red by giving the gift of life on the Big Red
Jennifer Fischer gave blood for the first time at the opening of
the new Jet Blue Park. She says it makes her feel like a life-saver
and is thrilled to save lives with her favorite baseball team.
Long-time blood donors also got on the bus. Charles Spagnolo says
he’s been giving blood since he was a teenager and decided to roll
up his sleeve after touring the new baseball facility.
Together Florida’s Blood Centers and the Boston Red Sox helped save
more than 100 lives at the grand opening of the new Jet Blue Park
in Fort Myers.
Journey of Blood
Have you ever wondered what happens to
your blood from the time of donation to the time of transfusion?
Well, your unit of blood takes quite a journey in the first 24
hours following a donation and we’re going to take you along for
Remember those test tubes the phlebotomist drew while you were
giving blood? Those test tubes are sent out to a Nucleic Acid
Testing facility where your blood is screened for a battery of
tests including HIV 1 & 2, West Nile Virus, hepatitis C,
hepatitis B, T-cruzi or chagas, syphilis, human T-cell lymphotropic
virus 1 & 2.
It’s also tested for cholesterol levels and to determine blood
group and RH type. In other words, this is where your blood is
labeled as A, B, AB or O and marked as either positive or
While all that is taking place at the NAT lab, your unit of blood
is going through its own process. That unit of blood is shipped to
a biologics manufacturing lab. This is where that unit is placed
into a centrifuge and spun at an extremely high speed in order to
separate the blood into three components- red blood cells,
platelets and plasma.
Next, that unit of blood is placed into a squeezing device also
known as an expresser. This is where the separated products are
placed into their own bags for storage.
Platelets have a short shelf life and only last five days. Plasma
can be stored for up to a year and red blood cells can survive for
48 days in refrigerators, but they usually don’t last that long.
Chief Technical Officer Mike Pratt says the blood he draws today is
usually transfused into a patient within 36 hours.
There is no substitute for human blood. It cannot be manufactured
and it must come from volunteer donors.
This process of testing and separating the blood products takes
place 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.