Building Donor Center Software Processes: Donor Physical Examination and Adverse Reactions

Donor physical examination, along with the donor questionnaire, are important both for donor and patient safety.  In general:

Is it safe for the donor to donate?

Is it safe for the patient to receive the blood even if it is safe for the donor to donate.

Any donor who does not feel well must not donate.  This may be the single most important step in ensuring a safe blood supply.

The donor physical examination includes the vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, temperature, heart rate, and temperature).  I have attached a sample set of criteria for review.  All are user-definable.  Note how the arm examination is also included (looking for scarring, skin lesions, etc.)

For all types of donations, there may be adverse reactions.  These must be documented in the record along with the disposition of the donation.  Will the donor need an extended deferral if the RBCs in the apheresis run are not returned?  This can be built from the reaction documentation.  Note the following sample table of reactions.

To Be Continued

Building Donor Center Processes: Setting Deferral Intervals between Donation Types

Donation can be whole blood or apheresis-based.  The sex and age for each donation type is specified.  At HMC, we did not accept females for platelet or plasma donations, so the starting age is listed as 99 years.  Otherwise, in accordance with Qatari law, the starting age for donation is 18.  All these parameters are user-definable, and a transfusion medicine physician can override the rules if necessary.

For each and every combination of donations, the deferral interval must be specified.  Examples follow.  The temporary deferral period is in days:

Previous donation whole blood, current donation whole blood:  56

Previous donor platelets, current donation whole blood:  2

Previous donation whole blood, current donation platelets:  56

Also note how for each possible combination there is an entry for male AND female.  Females are restricted to whole blood donation and only RBCs will be made from the collection.

If there is a collection incident and the apheresis procedure is not completed, the interval will be set to 56 days.  This will be covered in the post on donor adverse effect reporting.

To Be Continued:

Building Donor Center Processes: Donation Type and Bag Parameters

At the time of registration, the type of donation must be specified.  In my last position, this could include whole blood for automated Reveos, whole blood for cryoprecipitate, plasmapheresis, COVID 19 convalescent plasmapheresis, plateletpheresis, concurrent platelet and plasmapheresis, concurrent platelet, plasma, and RBC apheresis, RBC apheresis-one unit, and RBC apheresis-2 units.

There is also a specimen-only donation without actual collection that includes database check, assignment of an ISBT specimen number, donor questionnaire, physical examination, and specimen collection only..

We specified which bag or kit could be used for each type of donation so when it was selected, only that bag type would be accepted by Medinfo

For each of these types we must specify what type of donation is permitted:  volunteer, autologous, or directed.

Finally, we must indicate the maximum length of the procedure permitted.  This applied to whole blood only and we set this at 15 minutes—this is user definable.

The following are a sample set of parameter settings for the above:

Note how we included contingencies for old bag sets and equipment (that we later discontinued) and for granulocyte collection (which we did not actually perform).

To Be Continued:

Summary of Accomplishments at Hamad Medical Corporation 2011-2020


Established automated component production using Atreus technology, plasma and platelet pathogen inactivation (Mirasol)—made HMC component production Good Manufacturing System GMP compliant


Qatar is the first to adopt non-PCR-based NAT technology (Grifols/Novartis Tigress) and becomes world reference site for this


Based on the above, Qatar can now completely process all whole blood into blood components (red cells, platelets, and plasma) in as little as 5 hours from collection!


I established policies and procedures for the hospital blood banks/transfusion services, blood donor center, therapeutic apheresis, and laboratory information systems to bring HMC in compliance with the Council of Europe, international AABB, and other standards.  I customized our own standards for our local needs based on them.


Implemented custom build of the multilingual blood bank computer system (Medinfo) for both patient and donor services, including development of interfaces to all production equipment including Atreus and Mirasol (world’s first) and a direct link to Ministry of the Interior to obtain patient demographics in English and Arabic—Qatar became the world’s first site to combine fully-interfaced, automated component production with pathogen inactivation:  Qatar becomes world reference site for this.


Built, validated, and implemented laboratory build of hospital information system, Cerner Millennium


Replaced and updated Atreus with Reveos automated component production to allow faster throughput and capacity with a full bidirectional interface (world’s first), introduced platelet

additive solution PAS with pathogen inactivation (Mirasol)—Medinfo interfaces updated to Reveos for all equipment:  this doubles the capacity to process whole blood into components using the same physical space


Updated dedicated blood bank software Medinfo Hematos IIG by several versions using Division Head, LIS, and internally trained Super Users—at great cost savings to HMC by not using outside consultants (e.g. Dell Consulting)


Established column absorption technology using Terumo Optia therapeutic apheresis machine for treatment of ABO-incompatible renal transplants:  I validated using the Ortho Vision MAX to perform ABO antibody titers for this system and correlated it with the reference method at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm (manual gel) to bring rapid throughput and labor savings—Qatar being the first-site in the world to do this.  We saved money by using the same apheresis machine to use this column absorption technology (no need for second machine to use the columns)


Expedited setup (two weeks total) of COVID-19 convalescent plasma production, initially manual and then fully integrated into the Medinfo computer system as a customized module with separate quarantine collection, production, and transfusion service functions


I was awarded two HMC Star of Excellence Awards:

2013—Liver Transplantation Transfusion Support

2019—ABO-Incompatible Renal Transplantation Support

Operational Effects of the COVID Pandemic–My Experience in Qatar

The COVID-19 pandemic imposed new challenges to our system.  In general, these could be divided into:

  1. Decreased donors
  2. COVID vaccine effects
  3. Decreased available staff
  4. Shortages of supplies
  5. More demands on donor apheresis staff—CCP
  6. More demands on donor processing staff—CCP
  7. More demands on hospital transfusion service/blood bank staff—CCP

There were fewer donors in the early phase and the nurses also had to add a large number of donor plasmapheresis collections for COVID convalescent plasma CCP.  Still they had to maintain all donor and therapeutic apheresis services with no increase in staff.  Although elective procedures had been cancelled, there were still obstetrical, oncologic, and trauma services in full action.

Many of our staff were on leave when the borders were closed.  Some had to wait months before they could return to work.  Others had COVID-19 infection and were quarantined for several weeks.  This further reduced staffing.  We could not just hire outside staff since considerable training is involved in these processes.

I dedicated a separate donor collection space for the CCP program away from the regular donors as well as a quarantine processing area.  Similarly, the CCP plasma was kept segregated from the regular plasma supply and a specially designed location was identified for release of this product.  Working for this program diverted resources from blood collection to this special project, again without increasing resources.

With disruptions to shipments of supplies, including the Reveos whole blood kits and Trima donor apheresis sets, we had to rely on our large in-home inventory until the situation stabilized.  We prescreened the CCP donor candidates before we would collect them to avoid wastage of kits.

Fortunately, our throughput was minimally affected because our equipment and processes had always stressed speed.  We used single-well NAT testing to minimize the need of additional runs.  Also, we used Reveos automated component processing to greatly speed production (one Reveos can process four whole blood units in about 23 minutes or about 12 units in 75 minutes.)  One technologist could operate all 4 of our machines simultaneously and perform other tasks while the machines were working.

In the system I developed in Qatar, we could complete processing into components (RBCs, buffy coat platelet pools, leukodepleted plasma), all marker and immunohematology testing, leukoreduction of the pools and RBCs, Mirasol pathogen inactivation, and platelet additive solution in as little as five hours.

In rapid turn-around events, it is most helpful to have a robust blood bank computer system that can scale to the challenge.  Also, it must mercilessly enforce all the rules starting with donor qualification, screening, collection through testing and production.  At times of emergency, it is difficult to meet Good Manufacturing Processes manually.

I had built parallel separate donor collection, donor processing, and transfusion service/hospital blood bank processes specifically for CCP and had to staff them with available personnel, limited our capability to process regular donors.  The blood bank computer software restricted CCP use to designated physicians and transfusing locations.  For those interested, there is a separate series of posts about the CCP project and its implementation in the dedicated blood bank Medinfo HIIG.

COVID-19 vaccinations should have minimal effect in donor qualification since mRNA or antigen-based ones do not cause donor deferral.  Live attenuated COVID vaccines will defer donors for 2 weeks by current rules—the same as other live vaccines.  Donors who had previously received CCP will be deferred for three (3) months after last receiving this product.

In summary, the COVID pandemic reduced staffing and affected donor recruitment.  We had production mitigations to maximize throughput.  The system was stressed by the reduced staffing and special demands to produce CCP.  However, the extent of our automation allowed us to maintain throughput throughout the crisis.

Teaching Document: Validation Process

This is a teaching document for medical technology and transfusion fellows to explain the general structure of a validation.


All validations must be planned.  A validation protocol must be prepared with specific criteria for acceptance.  All validations with attached evidence must approved by the Head, Transfusion Medicine.


  1. A written validation protocol must be prepared in the advance and at least including the following:
    1. Specific parameters and number of iterations to be performed
    1. Designated staff to perform validation
    1. Documentary evidence of the testing
    1. Specific acceptability criteria
  2. The completed validation protocol must be submitted to the Division Head, Transfusion Medicine, or designee for review.
  3. Once the validation plan has been reviewed, it must be performed by the designated staff.
    1. Software validations will be performed in a specific test environment, not in the live, production system.
  4. The completed validation document, including screenshots of the software functionality if applicable, must be submitted to the Division Head, Transfusion Medicine for review.
  5. The equipment or software may only be used if the acceptability are met AND the validation is approved by the Division Head, Transfusion Medicine or designee.
  6. The completed validation protocol will be stored in the document control system.


Standards for Blood Banks and Transfusion Services, Current Edition, Bethesda, MD, USA