blank
Connect with us

Coronavirus

Morriston Hospital researchers venture into coronavirus hotspots as part of innovative COVID blood research

Published

on

Experts involved in a unique Covid-19 study at Morriston Hospital had to go to extreme measures while recruiting patients to the cause – going way beyond the clichéd image of researchers as people in white coats peering down microscopes in laboratories.

Two of the team from the hospital’s Welsh Centre for Emergency Medicine Research donned PPE gear to go into Covid hotspots including the emergency department and intensive care.

There they screened patients to check whether they were suitable and willing to take part, and took blood samples if they were.

They then set up a kind of human chain to ensure the blood was taken to the lab for processing without a second’s delay.

Around 1,000 patients were screened between last October and the end of January, with the target of 155 patients achieved months early.

They provided hundreds of blood samples for the Welsh Government-funded investigation – the only one of its kind in the UK – into one of the most devastating effects of the virus on the body.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Covid-19 is known to trigger the formation of abnormal blood clots that may damage organs such as the brain and lungs and could cause life-threatening complications such as stroke.

The centre is looking into why this happens, using new biomarkers the team previously developed with Swansea University to screen patients at risk of thromboembolic disease such as stroke and sepsis.

As well as gaining a better understanding of why the virus causes these abnormal clots, the study will focus on how drugs such as dexamethasone and anticoagulants like heparin affect the disease process and outcome.

The study involved screening patients with suspected Covid when they arrived in Morriston Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Advertisement

Blood samples were taken from those who agreed to take part, and carried straight to the centre’s laboratory just outside the main ED area.

Research assistant Jan Whitley and research nurse Jun Cezar Zaldua, who joined the team on secondment last autumn specifically for this study, were at the forefront of the screening and blood sample collection.

Jun, wearing full PPE, went into the “red” areas where the Covid-suspected patients had been taken.

He explained the research study to them and, if they consented to become involved, took samples of their blood.

“I had to explain to the patients what the research was about and its importance,” said Jun.

“I really had to communicate to the patients in a very clear and concise manner. That was the most challenging part. They were struggling to breathe and they didn’t really feel well.

Advertisement

“Some felt so unwell that they didn’t want to take part. But most of them really wanted to help. They didn’t want others to be in that situation, because they were struggling.”

Time was of the essence as the blood samples had to be taken to the lab before they could clot. Jan waited in ED but outside the red areas for Jun to hand over the samples, which she then took to the lab.

“PPE throws up its own difficulties,” she explained.

“We always needed a team of three people, someone taking the blood and someone outside of the red area who was still protected but not in full PPE, who could leave and bring the blood samples straight back to the laboratory.”

Advertisement

Advertisement

The third person in the chain was the scientist in the laboratory who immediately loaded the samples into a rheometer, a device used to analyse the blood using the centre’s bespoke biomarker.

This would have been either Dr Matthew Lawrence or Professor Karl Hawkins, who undertook specific testing.

Not all patients who went through the initial screening could participate in the study even if they wanted to, as certain criteria had to be met.

Some who were suspected Covid cases on arrival were subsequently found negative. Others were already on anticoagulants and could not be included as this would have affected the blood test results.

Of the 155 patients recruited, 120 came from ED.

Advertisement

All follow-up samples were carried out on the wards or in the intensive care unit, depending on where the patients had been moved to.

The samples were taken after 24 hours, three to five days and one week, which made it a seven-day operation for the team.

 “We collected samples during the evenings and at weekends” said Jan. “Once you have recruited a patient you have to do the follow-up samples to make sure you’re getting them at the appropriate time.

“If that meant coming in on a Saturday or Sunday, that’s what we did, along with other members of the team.”

Advertisement

Advertisement

Jun said all the staff in ED, intensive care and the wards had been fully cooperative and supportive. That was vital as, without their support, it would have been impossible to complete the study.

“They were really accommodating. They wanted us to do the research because they were seeing first-hand the consequences of the disease and how it was affecting patients.

“It was a sharp learning curve for me and a fantastic experience. I learnt a lot about the methodology of carrying out research in acute illness.”

However, for Jan in particular, it was a very different experience to what she was used to.

“As a research assistant I’m more usually in an environment where I would be handling and analysing data,” she said.

Advertisement

“I have recruited patients before on other acute studies, but the Covid situation was a completely different environment.

“Initially you are a bit wary. You are very aware of the situation you’re walking into. But we have been particularly careful and strictly followed all recommended guidelines and protocols.

“I was given confidence by all the staff and had total admiration for their professionalism and the dedicated care they gave to these very sick patients.” 

Advertisement

Professor Adrian Evans

The study, which also involves the collection and recording of large volumes of clinical and scientific data at the bedside, is led by Professor Adrian Evans and his consultant colleague Dr Suresh Pillai.

Professor Evans (right), the research centre’s Director, said the volume of data to be analysed meant the results of the study would not be published until later in the year.

Advertisement

He added: “The patient recruitment target was met within four months of an eight-month grant period.

“This is a tribute to the entire team effort and Jan and Jun’s highly effective partnership.

“The reason we recruited so quickly was because of their professional and sensitive approach and the huge efforts of the whole team and all those involved in the health board such as laboratory medicine.”

Dr Pillai said: “It was particularly remarkable because of the intensity of the disease and the hazardous environment Jun and Jan had to work in.

“Undertaking research in acute settings is the most difficult because of the sensitivities involved for patients, relatives and staff.”

Advertisement

Read more about the study and the work of the Welsh Centre for Emergency Medicine Research here.


Advertisement
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Coronavirus

Swansea professor’s COVID contribution recognised with new honour

Published

on

By

A Swansea academic at the forefront of shaping our understanding of Covid-19 has received further recognition for his work in the field of data science.

Co-director of Population Data Science and Clinical Professor of Public Health at Swansea University, Professor Ronan Lyons has been elected to a prestigious European body, the Academia Europaea.

Advertisement

This latest honour follows on from Professor Lyons becoming a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and being appointed OBE in the New Year’s honours.

The focus of his work is the use of routinely collected data to better understand factors that influence health and wellbeing and developing and evaluating interventions aimed to improve the health of the public. He has led some of the largest studies ever undertaken in this field and contributed to research surrounding the pandemic and its consequences at Wales, UK and European level.

Professor Lyons said he was delighted to have been recommended for membership of the prestigious Academia Europaea, which aims to encourage the highest possible standards in scholarship, research and education, and promote a better public understanding of the benefits of learning.

He said: “This honour is a recognition of the shared efforts and hard work of the various teams and partners I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years. None more so than over the last two years, during the pandemic.

“Through the European Population Health Information Research Infrastructure (PHIRI) Project we’re developing research infrastructure to generate the best Covid-19 population health knowledge. The multi-disciplinary, One Wales working group provided crucial evidence to Welsh Government’s response to Covid community transmission and informed policy development across the UK.

Advertisement

“The International Covid-19 Data Alliance (ICODA) partnership with Health Data Research UK and the Bills Gates Foundation and others, is supporting a globally coordinated approach to tackling Covid and future threats.

“This has been an incredibly challenging period for us all and I’m enormously proud that these labours have been acknowledged and rewarded by this election.”

Professor Lyons now joins more than 5,000 other eminent, individual scientists and scholars, who cover a broad range of academic disciplines that include former Nobel Prize laureates, Turing Award recipients and Fields Medal winners.

(Lead image: Swansea University)

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Carmarthen

Health board lifts visiting restrictions at Glangwili and Withybush hospitals

Published

on

By

Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed that restrictions for people visiting patients will be lifted in Glangwili and Withybush hospitals from Wednesday 20 July 2022.

Visiting to Bronglais Hospital, Prince Philip Hospital and community hospitals remain open, by appointment only.

Advertisement

The health board are advised that it will still be a requirement to wear masks in Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals.

Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience, said: “Last week we had to make the decision to extend measures at Glangwili Hospital in addition to Withybush Hospital to reduce the risk to our patients and staff and we thank people for their support and co-operation.

“We can all continue to take protective measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to protect vulnerable people and the NHS.

“We strongly advise anyone in our locality who has the classic symptoms, or who suspects they may have COVID-19 to isolate and take an LFD test. If positive, we urge people to isolate – this will help you to rest and recover while protecting others from risk of transmission.”

(Lead image: Google Maps)

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Coronavirus

Mask wearing reinstated at Llanelli’s Prince Philip Hospital

Published

on

By

Hywel Dda University Health Board have said that all staff and visitors to Prince Philip Hospital must wear face masks (unless exempt) with immediate effect following the latest review of prevalence of COVID-19 in the community.

This follows the decisions made last week to reinstate mask wearing at Glangwili Hospital and both mask wearing and visiting restrictions at Withybush Hospital.

Advertisement

The health board have said that visiting will continue in general at Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals following the latest review of case numbers but local ward restrictions are in place so please contact the ward to arrange your visit in advance

Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Wearing a surgical mask or face covering and keeping a physical distance when attending a hospital or medical facility will help protect our most vulnerable patients and service users.

“We are grateful for the ongoing support and efforts of our communities to stop the spread, particularly around more vulnerable people.

“These measures will be continually reviewed, and as soon as it is safe to do so, we will ease these restrictions.”

The health board is stressing the continued importance of the behaviours known to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, and the different requirements in place in health and social care settings.

Advertisement

Mandy, added: “Isolating if we have symptoms of COVID-19, or other infectious diseases, is one of the most important things we can do to prevent the onward spread and break the chain of transmission.

“We strongly encourage anyone in our locality who has the classic symptoms, or who suspects they may have COVID-19 to isolate and take an LFD test. If positive, we urge people to continue with the same isolation guidance that has been in place – this will help you to rest and recover and protect others from risk of transmission.”

Later this week, the Welsh Government will update its vaccine strategy with details of the next booster dose in the autumn.

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Sir Frank Atherton said:

“The vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. While the vaccine does not completely stop transmission it offers protection against serious illness and reduces the risk of hospitalisation.

Advertisement

“You can still get the vaccine if you haven’t had your full course, or you were too ill to get your spring booster and I would encourage parents to think about getting the vaccine for their children over the summer months to help minimise any disruption to their education during the autumn and winter terms.”

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Swansea Bay News