Portable blood analyzer picks up cases of anemia in Mexican children

One of the children at Casa Hogar Douglas in Nuevo Laredo.

San Antonio (Dec. 3, 2003) – A portable blood analyzer developed at The University of Texas  Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC) and commercialized by AVOX Systems of San  Antonio helped diagnose a young child with anemia recently during a visit to a children’s home  in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. The device, called an oximeter, also found anemia in two children in  the same home last year.

A church-sponsored team including three pediatricians and several registered nurses and  licensed vocational nurses brought the oximeter and other equipment to the Casa Hogar  Douglas children’s home in Nuevo Laredo on Oct. 18. Blood, urine and vision screenings were  performed. “We’ve been visiting this home for about eight years,” said Yolanda Medina, a nurse practitioner employed by the UTHSC department of pediatrics/division of neonatology. “For the last two years, Dr. Pete Shepherd has been kind enough to lend us the oximeter, which has been very helpful. Last year we had two to three people with anemia, this year just one young girl. When we first started visiting, more than half the children were anemic.” Dr. Shepherd is professor of physiology at the UTHSC and president of AVOX Systems.

The group also conducts classes in first-aid, dental care and the physical changes that occur during childhood. The results are impressive. “Every year the children are healthier and need less treatment,” Medina said. “We leave behind medications with dosage information to the directors of the home and for the Mexican doctor who visits the home on a monthly basis.”

The team members set up seven stations to check weight, measurement, urine and blood. The 4-pound oximeter measures total hemoglobin and other blood values. “The blood station is the one the children fear the most but it also is the one that interests them the most,” Medina said. “We give the children pencils and stickers to offset the fear.”

Youngsters ages 4 to 17 live at the children’s home. Some are orphans, while others have parents who can’t take care of them. The group, which included nurses from University Hospital and Methodist Hospital, will make another trip next October. The South Texas Center for Pediatric Care also donated medications and equipment.

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