A mysterious robot is helping clinicians at the University of Alberta blood bank. By checking for HIV and Hep C, the robot helps the bank process more blood for hemophiliacs:
The robot does the tedious work of separating the components of the blood samples, registering them according to a barcode reading, and then preparing them to be frozen until researchers can analyze them.
Ritchie hopes the increased production will allow the BBPSP program to expand its scope and accept blood samples from more people in Canada who require frequent blood transfusions, such as sickle cell anemia
Since the BBPSP was established in 2000, Ritchie’s team has not found a single case of HIV or hepatitis C that has resulted from a blood transfusion to a hemophiliac in Canada. This is a drastic improvement from the situation decades ago, in which thousands of Canadian became infected with these diseases, among others, after receiving tainted blood in transfusions.
“It’s really encouraging,” Ritchie said. “We’ve been able to confirm that the measures put into place are working to ensure we don’t have a tragedy like the one that occurred in the ’70s and ’80s.”
This is not the first time the University of Alberta has turned to robots (see #8 in this list) for a quick efficiency fix. In fact, you could say all of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.