New Truths About Transfusions
By Tara Hulen
Blood transfusions are a vital part of modern medicine, but recent research shows that patients who receive fewer transfusions often fare better. These findings have spurred changes in the way blood is used at UAB Hospital.
Blood is known as the “gift of life,” but the present isn’t as welcome as scientists once thought. Research over the past decade has revealed that patients fare better when blood transfusions are kept to a minimum, a realization that has brought major changes in the way UAB and other medical centers across the country handle their blood.
When a patient gets a transfusion—to replace blood lost during surgery or after a car accident, for example—the blood the patient receives isn’t the same as the blood flowing through that patient’s own body, even if it’s the same blood type, says Marisa B. Marques, M.D., director of the Transfusion Service at UAB and co-chair of the UAB Blood Utilization and Management Committee. That is where the problems start.
The fluid we call blood actually includes many components, including red blood cells (which carry oxygen), plasma (the liquid portion that carries the red blood cells), and platelets (cell fragments that, among other things, cause blood to clot). Blood donated to the American Red Cross and other collection organizations is separated into these three components for storage. Each has its own use in a blood transfusion.
Because the original plasma that surrounded the red blood cells has been removed, “the red cells are re-suspended in a fluid to keep them ‘alive,’” Marques says. “What is becoming more and more clear is that as these cells sit in a bag in a blood bank for up to six weeks, a lot of things are happening inside.”
A Math Teacher’s Journey to the Classroom
By Shelley Stewart
Terri Hipps came back to UAB in 2009 to finish her degree in mathematical reasoning—more than two decades after she first started. Now a math teacher at Vincent Middle/High School, Hipps was honored as the Shelby County Board of Education's 2010 First-Year Teacher of the Year.
Terri Hipps has taught school for decades, but it’s only in the last few months that she’s started receiving a paycheck. After home-schooling her own children and tutoring dozens of others, Hipps came back to UAB to finish her degree in 2009—following a 21-year break. Her goal was to put her teaching skills to the test in public-school classrooms. She passed with flying colors: Hipps, who now teaches advanced math courses at Vincent Middle/High School outside Birmingham, was honored as the Shelby County Board of Education’s 2010 First-Year Teacher of the Year.
Teaching was never part of Terri Hipps’s life plan, but somehow it kept coming up. When she first started at UAB in the 1980s, she enrolled in the nursing program. One day a professor took her aside and advised her to consider teaching instead; he had seen how her fellow students improved after Hipps tutored them.
Hipps changed her major to mathematical reasoning, but before she could get her degree, she received a higher calling: As young newlyweds, she and her husband became intent on Christian missionary work. After completing intensive training, they were on the verge of moving to Micronesia, “and the only thing we knew is that we’d need to home-educate any future children because there were no schools where we were going,” Hipps explains.
Meet the Face that Launched Gang Green
By Grant Martin
Jeremiah Haswell is larger than life. He has appeared on T-shirts, billboards, newspaper ads, and stadium scoreboards. With a six-inch green wig, Blazer logos on his cheeks, and a mouth frozen mid-shout, Haswell’s green-tinted visage has been the face of UAB athletics for years. Yet even though the two-time alumnus is a regular at Blazer sports events, few of his fellow fans recognize the icon in their midst—even if they’re wearing his face on their shirts.
Haswell’s spirit-filled image, as captured in a nine-year-old photograph, is the logo of Gang Green, the UAB student organization formed to support Blazer athletics. Haswell was a founding member of the group in 2001 and served as its third president in 2003, in between earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from the university. Yet his most lasting contribution came, unbeknownst to him, when he was just another face in a packed Bartow Arena.