Discovers Rare Blood Type
NMU student Pete Pelletier started a practicum at the Portneuf Medical
Center in Pocatello, Idaho, to complete his associate degree as
a clinical laboratory technician, he didn’t know the experience
would greatly enhance his resume. While doing routine blood tests,
Pelletier detected a rare antibody in a woman’s blood that potentially
saved the patient’s life.
is a very complex problem to solve when encountered, and it is so
hard to find compatible blood, the patient could die before it would
be available,” said Wayne Price (Clinical Laboratory
Sciences), Pelletier’s adviser.
was testing an anemic woman’s blood to find a donor for her transfusion
and obtained abnormal results.
we were thinking that I had done something incorrect in my testing,
but I continued to do the work-up for more learning experience,”
Pelletier said. “What I found next confirmed that my work-up was
probably accurate and that we were dealing with a very rare Rh blood
this occurrence was so rare, Pelletier sent the blood sample to
the American Red Cross (ARC) and they forwarded it to the National
Reference Lab and Rare Donor Center. The ARC listed the chance of
finding a compatible unit of blood as less than 1 in 10,000, Pelletier
the patient and her family it is an extremely big deal if they need
a transfusion of red cells or if she becomes pregnant,” Price said.
persistence led him to do more research on the topic and write a
paper. He was thrilled when given the opportunity to present his
paper at the Wisconsin Association of Blood Banks Annual Education
Seminar in Milwaukee, Wis.
the opportunity to give my first paper presentation as an undergraduate
student in front of such an audience was an unbelievable experience,”
said his discovery of the unusual Rh-factor was both exciting and
nerve-racking, especially because many technicians who work in the
field of transfusion medicine have never had the chance to see a
of the people who I talked with at the Wisconsin Association of
Blood Banks commented on how lucky I was to have such an experience
and how they would love to come across something like it,” he said.
attributes his confidence in his studies to the amount of research
he did in the field and to the education he has received at NMU.
have to give a great deal of credit to our CLS program here at NMU,”
he said. “The program has given me the best clinical lab education
that I feel I can get.”
is proud of his advisee and said he feels blessed to have an exceptional
student like Pelletier in the program.
was willing, as a junior, to do something many professionals in
the field would hesitate to do: delve deeper into the problem, understand
the underlying principles and then face an audience of professionals
in the field with his findings and explain it to them,” he said.
hopes to attend medical school after he graduates from Northern.