Everything was set up perfectly. I got an extra session of dialysis on Sunday night. Monday morning I was to have my blood drawn to be processed and sent to Bergamo, Italy for genetic testing to help determine the chances of success in a transplant and the course to take before, during and after the transplant. I was to fast for 12 hours prior to having my blood drawn. This had to be done on a Monday to give enough time for the samples to pass through customs and reach the lab at Bergamo before Friday as they would be closed over the weekend.
I had talked to the lab here that would be doing the processing. I repeatedly checked with them if they had everything in place. They assured me that they did. I had talked to the courier people. They had all the clearances in place. It was after all a big deal to be sending blood outside the country for testing.
The plan was for me to go down to the lab around 10 in the morning fasted for twelve hours. The blood would be drawn. They would process it and store it between -20 to -80 degrees centigrade till 4 in the evening when the courier guys would pick it up and pack it in 15 kgs of dry ice with a temperature logger that would record the temperature throughout the 60 odd hour journey from Hyderabad to Bergamo.
I went as planned to the lab at 10. There was some initial delay in getting the tubes to draw the samples. Eventually my blood was drawn around 11. They then asked me to leave. They had to prepare serum, buffy coat and plasma from the samples. They said it would take an hour or so and they would get the samples ready and store them at -20 to -80 degrees centigrade and asked me to come back around 3:30 so that they would show me the samples and we could hand it over to the courier folks at 4.
I was a little worried about having them do everything themselves without me being involved. This was a very critical thing and I did not want anything to go wrong. But I had no choice. I would not be allowed anyway where they would be processing the blood. So, I left.
I suddenly got a call around one in the afternoon. The doctor from the lab said they needed some kind of a tube urgently. They had only one and they needed five. He asked me to send someone over immediately. They would give him the one tube they had and we would need to procure five more. I had my father rush down to the lab and try and co-ordinate. There was little bit of a panic as they did not know where the tubes would be available. Eventually they called the vendor who supplied them the tubes and asked them to drop off the tubes to the lab.
I reached the lab around 3. The tubes had not yet arrived. After some waiting, the tubes finally arrived. The techs took the tubes and went to complete the processing. It was around 3:30. The courier guy came with the packing. We got everything ready. I handed over the check and the remaining documents. It was 4:30. We were running out of time. The techs returned with the samples.
"We'll have to cancel the shipment today", she said. My heart sank. "Why?" "We did not get enough buffy coat from the EDTA sample. There's no point sending an incomplete set."
The problem was these techs at the lab were doing this kind of a thing for the first time. They themselves were not sure about how to prepare these kinds of samples. So, this was not their fault at all.
All the effort, all the preparation came to naught. I will have to plan better and do the whole exercise again.