Saturday, December 19, 2015

Islands in the Stream (Musings on how love of transfusion medicine unites us)

Updated: 20 Dec. 2015
December's blog is based on a request from CSTM to 'put my money where my mouth is' and follow up on a statement from a March 2015 blog:
'Just a thought. Perhaps the CSTM would consider celebrating some of these wonderful transfusion professionals on its website as an ongoing feature?'
As a longtime CSTM member and active blogger, guess it was natural to ask me and I was happy to oblige. Of course, blogs on individual careers cannot be written without the help of their subjects. So I asked, and they've kindly complied with only a little arm twisting.

As a value added benefit, blogs about lifelong transfusion medicine professionals document not only their contributions but also their experiences. Having remembrances in writing creates a historical record. And the only way to document this type of history is by asking questions of those who lived it.

This blog consists of 'teasers' about blog subjects to be featured on the CSTM website. 

They're all Canadians and mainly medical laboratory technologists / scientists. I encourage TM workers around the globe, whether med lab technologists, nurses, or physicians, to see themselves and their careers in these portraits and snippets of what transfusion medicine was like in the 20th C.

In some ways the blogs document the 'best of times and worst of times' to use one of the most famous opening lines ever in a novel, Dickens' opener to 'A Tale of Two Cities':
'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope ... in short, the period was so far like the present period....'
The blog's title derives from a Bee Gees ditty whose title was taken from a Hemingway novel. Sung by Rogers and Parton, it became one of the best country duets of all time. 


In no particular order, a small sampling of blogs to come. This med lab professional...

1. Began his career in the UK where he met R.R. Coombs of Cambridge University, emigrated to Canada to work in Winnipeg's Rh Institute with the likes of Dr. John Bowman and Marion Lewis (awarded AABB's most prestigious Karl Landsteiner Award in 2001 and 1971, respectively) and ended his distinguished career in southern Alberta. 

2. Worked for Canada's blood suppliers (Red Cross/CBS) in multiple roles and several hospitals where in the 1990s she experienced the Alberta government's deep cuts to laboratory medicine funding, resulting in lab restructuring in which up to 40% of med lab techs in Edmonton lost their jobs and were faced with a career change.

3. Began her career as a PhD immunologist with research and academic experience in clinical microbiology, cancer research and immunology in several countries and later earned a masters in Health Admin. In 1994 she began working for Justice Krever on the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada, eventually becoming executive coordinator and scientific advisor. Since then she has worked around the globe for the WHO on many blood-related projects in Third World countries.

4. Born in Hong Kong, began his career with BS in Med Tech from the University of Hawaii. Obtained ART certification (CSLT/CSMLS ) in Immunohematology, worked for Canada's blood supplier and several hospital transfusion services. Later he became business manager / technical education specialist for a diagnostic company, providing many educational workshops at TM conferences and beyond.

Many more transfusion professionals have agreed to be featured in CSTM blogs. If you want to suggest candidates, please do. 

Musings on History
I'll end with a few quotations on history. Perhaps the most famous is attributed to Santayana:
  • 'Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'
Churchill's is also a beauty:
  • 'History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.' 
Who could omit this true witticism by George Bernard Shaw?
  • 'We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.'
On a more serious note, one I particularly like by M. Scott Peck:
  • 'The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual - for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.'
Then there's this:

When the blogs become available on CSTM's site, they will be referenced in TraQ's monthly newsletter. I'm hoping they will both inform and entertain, snippets of transfusion medicine history as experienced by those who lived it.

As always, comments are most welcome. 

To me 'Islands in the Stream' means that, although as transfusion professionals we have separate careers that are different (like islands in the stream), our love for transfusion medicine unites us. Enjoy this 'tour de force' duet:
As always, comments are most welcome.