[Bloodlust] Signs : 11

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Sade's jaw on the other hand was weighted down by something entirely different. It was his blood. When they had arrived at St. Nicholas in their white lab coats flashing their W.H.O badges in a bid to claim Akin, he had still been in the throws of crisis induced pain. For them, this was fortuitous. Because it meant that they would be able to observe their soon-to-be patient in the midst of his crisis and they would also easily get parental consent as they would be catching his parents in their most vulnerable moment. If there was any doubt before of their ability to claim him, that doubt was now gone.

And so they struck quickly. It was like the spirit of deference walked before them as the W.H.O team walked and talked as if they had every right to do what they were about to and nurses and doctors in kind ended their responses with 'sir's and 'ma's as if speaking to a higher authority. Locked doors flew open at their request and directions were given freely and without reserve. One would have thought that Sade and her team were the directors of the hospital for all the leeway they were given. As it were, they had located the Mabogunje's within minutes and persuaded them within seconds. Papers were signed while Akin lay doubled over, gripping himself in fits of pain.

In view of the fact that Akin was already hooked up to IVs with a catheter in his arm, Sade figured that rather then wait for his release into their care they might as well draw some blood to study sooner. This way, half of the team could return to the lab and begin investigations while the rest waited for the St. Nicholas staff to finish treating Akin, his pain to subside, and his eventual discharge into their care. Of course Sade wasn't about to stand around waiting for Akin to feel better so she assigned herself to the half heading back to the lab and left her co-workers to deal with bringing Akin back. This was how Sade came to be studying Akin's blood before ever addressing the issue of the oesophageal lacunae, and this was how she came to discover the third physiological change to Akin's bodily composition.

On initial inspection everything had looked as it should be. A low red blood cell count and a high... extremely high sickle level. But on closer inspection, Sade observed what she thought were spherocytes: red blood cells deformed into a rigid spherical shape. The presence of these could indicate that Akin had developed a further complication. An auto-immune haemolytic anaemia (A.I.H.A). But Sade couldn't be sure. Not without a Coombs test, and she already knew what the results of one would be. Positive. Why not when the young man already had a haemolytic anaemia called Sickle-Cell Disease. With no way for the test to differentiate between A.I.H.A and S.C.D, even a positive result would be rendered inconclusive.

While contemplating what to do about this quandary, Sade found herself staring intensely at the blood sample under the microscope. In the same way a child might stare at a difficult problem hoping for a solution to reveal itself. That was when she noticed that these spherocytes were abnormal. Where you would normally expect to see a smaller cell without central pallor, she saw an average one without central pallor. In other words, rather than being spherical instead of bi-concave, these 'spherocytes' were simply flat. In fact, they were not spherocytes at all, but something entirely different.

In consulting with the other team members, the suggestion that they may be schistocytes (fragmented red blood cells) was thrown up. But this was soon debunked by the fact that these cells, whatever they were, were properly formed but for lack of curvature. And so her investigation continued. But the answer only came when one of the other researchers, completely absorbed in what he was reading, unintentionally bumped into her table while she was still staring at the blood sample. She watched as some of these cells jostled within the blood smear and magically morphed into normal spherocytes. That is to say, they ceased to be flat and instantly regained the rotundness she had originally expected to see. Thus it was that at 11:45pm, Sade's jaw hit the table.

I must be seeing things. Maybe I've been working too hard. Cells don't just move from one deformation to another! It's impossible!

...and she was right. Though it would take Sade several more hours of analysis and a few more jostles of the lab table to know, what she would eventually discover, was that she was looking at two-sides of the same cell and not in fact an instantaneous cellular correction. The 'spherocytes' were not morphing from deformed to normal but simply flipping over every time the table was jostled. One side of the cell was completely flat, while the other was concave. In other words, rather than being bi-concave like a normal cell, these cells were mono-concave or in more correct terms planoconcave.

The discovery of these special cells was cause for much excitement among Sade's team. Both for those who were a part of it, and those who were not - upon their return with Akin Mabogunje. As with all scientific discoveries, the discoverer was granted the privilege of naming the discovery - and Sade being the practicalist she is, simply named it for what it was. A planocyte: A cell with one flat side and one curved side. Derived from the term planoconcave but theoretically also applicable to a planoconvex cell. They would be spending the next few weeks studying the effects and origins of these planocytes in Akin's body.

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Novel: Bloodlust | Chapter: Signs | Page: 11

There's more!? Morphed throat, morphed cells, what's next?
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