I went to Istanbul Çapa Faculty of Medicine as an intern at the beginning of this summer. I still don’t know what kind of a career I want, so I went there to observe the hospital environment. I had homophobia, so this internship was an opportunity to get over my phobia. Luckily, I was going to see hundreds of blood tubes every day because they put me in bone marrow bank department. As a beginning, a professor and a laboratory personnel lectured us. They gave us a brief information about organ transplantation including liver, kidney and bone marrow. Similarly, they introduced the tests that are used to match donor HLA’s and the recipient’s HLA. I learned that HLA stands for human leukocyte antigen system and it is a complex gene encoding the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins in humans. These cell-surface proteins are responsible for the regulation of the immune system in humans. The proteins encoded by certain genes are also known as antigens, as a result of their historic discovery as factors in organ transplants. Different classes have different functions: HLAs corresponding to MHC class I (A, B, and C) present peptides from inside the cell. For example, if the cell is infected by a virus, the HLA system brings fragments of the virus to the surface of the cell so that the cell can be destroyed by the immune system. Apparently, my strength during the internship was my patience while trying to understand the science background of the HLA tests.
In the bone marrow bank, there were many laboratories testing the matches of HLAs. There were three basic lab tests applied to each marrow candidate and its donor. Marrow transplantation was not carried out unless all three of the tests results were positive. These test included DNA isolation, flow and blood serum test. The first two days were tough for me because I had a hard time getting used to seeing blood. However, I could stand seeing blood after a few days. The internship was quite beneficial for me because I could overcome an important fear of mine. Similarly, I saw that the laboratory tests are crucial before the operations and they have to be carried out carefully. We were not allowed to do the tests ourselves but I could observe them in detail. Especially the DNA isolation was really interesting because I could see the DNA like a string with my own eyes. We spend 5 days there and the shift was from 8 am to 4 pm. Although it was a fun experience to be in the hospital, in the laboratory I was really tired by the end of the day and I can say that this was my physical weakness in this activity.
Hours Completed: 41