Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is encouraging the public to donate blood, and is spreading the word that what many consider to be the most painful part of the process – the finger stick to test hemoglobin level – is no longer included.
Now, blood donors simply slip a ring-shaped sensor on their thumb and in under a minute, the sensor measures and displays hemoglobin, oxygen saturation level and pulse rate. A hemoglobin test is always done before donors give blood, as required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to ensure that donors aren’t anemic and that they are able to safely donate.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from our donors since we implemented this new technology earlier in the year,” said Armando Romero, associate director of Blood Donor Services at Cedars-Sinai. “Before, I would often hear donors say that the finger stick was more painful than the needle stick from the actual donation, and as a donor myself, I could attest to that. This noninvasive screening fixes that. It’s entirely painless.”
When fitted on the donor’s thumb, the hemoglobin analyzer applies pressure, obstructing blood flow. Using a method called occlusion spectroscopy, it measures light transmitted through the thumb to quickly give an accurate hemoglobin reading.
The monitor has many benefits, in addition to being painless. It prevents potential transmission of infectious diseases, reduces the need for trained personnel, takes under a minute and eliminates biohazardous waste.
According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood or platelets. Donating blood at Cedars-Sinai is encouraged to ease strain on the national blood supply, especially around the first of the year, when fewer people donate blood.
Cedars-Sinai is planning community blood drives throughout January, and people can also donate at the hospital. Register online by calling (310)423-4170, or visit donatebloodcedars.org.