August 3, 2020

We're launching a monthly series about the artists who contributed to the BioBridge Art Collection. This month's featured artist is F.L. "Doc" Spellmon. Click on the video to see the entire BBG art collection.

A good artist can use his hands to create a painting. An extraordinary artist can transform that painting to an enchanting story that cannot be expressed by words.

Fronzell Lincoln “Doc” Spellmon was extraordinary, an artist with the ability to create remarkable stories and messages through the stroke of his paintbrush.

He discovered his love for art at a young age after seeing pictures from the Bible and other religious books owned by his father, who was a minister. Those fables and biblical stories had a great impact on his artwork later, as he is best known for his nativity scenes and folk art.

July 30, 2020

Dr. Jairo Melo, Medical Director for Pulmonary and Critical Care with Methodist Hospital, treats dozens of patients with COVID-19 every day.

Based on early research, he and his team have been prescribing the antiviral drug Remdisivir and a steroid called dexamethasone to patients, but supplies of the drugs can be tight. So is the supply of another treatment Dr. Melo says he would like to use with every COVID-19 admitted to the hospital – convalescent plasma.

And that’s a resource that doesn’t require a pharmaceutical facility. All it takes is someone who has been sick with COVID-19 to give plasma at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center.

‘Go and donate plasma’

“If you have had COVID-19 and recovered, or if you know of anyone who has recovered, they should go and donate plasma,” Dr. Melo says. “Your blood has antibodies that may help save the life of someone else, maybe somebody you love.”

July 27, 2020

The typical blood donation takes about one pint from the 8-12 pints of blood in a typical adult. But how does the body replace that blood?

It’s actually a pretty remarkable process.

Red cells

Let’s start with the red cells, which make up 40-45% of the bloodstream. One of the biggest jobs for red cells is carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body. When the number of red cells drops, special cells in the kidneys sense a reduction in the oxygen levels in the blood.

Those cells then secrete a protein that travels through your bloodstream to the bone marrow, which is where blood-forming stem cells are produced. The protein tells the marrow that more red blood cells are needed.

Production of additional red cells begins right away. The body can make up to 2 million new red cells a second, but since they are so numerous in your bloodstream, it takes about 6-8 weeks for them to return to pre-donation levels.

July 20, 2020

One of the most frequently asked questions about what we do at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center is “why am I not paid for giving blood if you charge hospitals for it?”

Like all blood centers in this country, we operate under guidance from the Food and Drug Administration. Those guidelines specifically require us to label all donations as either “paid donor” or “volunteer donor.”

Hospitals across the United States have policies against transfusing blood from paid donors.

Plasma centers, which also operate under FDA guidelines, pay donors because the plasma they collect is not used in hospitals – it is processed by the centers for therapies and not transfused directly into patients. The plasma the centers collect undergoes a number of physical steps (known as fractionation) to ensure it is safe to use.

July 13, 2020

The COVID-19 antibody testing on your blood donation with the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center is a test looking for your body’s response to the infection.

When you are tested for COVID-19, the test checks for the presence of the coronavirus, said Dr. Samantha Gomez Ngamsuntikul, Associate Medical Director of the community blood center.

The test performed on your donation looks for antibodies, which are developed by your immune system to fight the virus 1-3 weeks after you become sick, she said. The test shows if you previously were infected.

“When you are first symptomatic with COVID, your body probably hasn’t had time to develop antibodies, so the antibody testing will likely be negative,” Dr. Gomez Ngamsuntikul said.

If you have been diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19, or if you cared for, lived with, or had close contact with anyone diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19, you should not donate blood for 28 days.