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Compelled by our belief that The Blood Center represents an extension of our client’s operations, as well as their FDA license/registration, we strive to provide the highest caliber in testing services. Our commitment to quality and regulatory compliance is driven by our organizational values and the culture in which we operate. In addition, our staff is committed to meeting the customers’ needs and quickly resolving any issues that may arise.
Donor blood specimens are tested for ABO, Rh, red cell antibodies, Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), HIV, HTLV, Syphilis, and CMV. Specimens are processed utilizing state of the art technology with FDA licensed test kits and reagents. The test methods used for screening detect antibodies that the body produces in response to an infection. These screening tests were designed to detect as many positive donors as possible, including those with very low levels of antibodies. Unfortunately, perfectly healthy donors sometimes test positive for these tests, as test manufacturers sacrificed test specificity to gain test sensitivity.
The body takes a certain amount of time to produce detectable amounts of antibodies. The period from the time someone is infected/exposed to the time they have produced enough antibodies for the laboratory to detect, is called the “seroconversion window” or the “window period". In some cases, such as with the HCV, this "window period" could be on the average of 70 days! However, The Blood Center has the technology to employ a nucleic acid test (NAT) methodology to shorten this window period.
NAT, is a biochemical method that detects a virus or bacterium by identifying its genetic code. The Blood Center has been using NAT for HIV and HCV since 1999, and for West Nile Virus (WNV) since 2003. In 2011, NAT for HBV was added.
By performing NAT, HCV can be detected on average 60 days sooner than antibody testing, and HIV can be detected on average five-days sooner. With the addition of NAT for HBV we are able to detect infection to the Hepatitis B Virus sooner. When WNV proved to be a potential risk to the blood supply, NAT was the obvious choice as the testing method to be used.
The combination of performing screening tests and NAT helps to ensure a safe and reliable blood supply. As newer technologies become available, you can be assured that The Blood Center will be at the forefront, increasing the safety of the blood it supplies to the hospitals it serves.