Woke up this morning feeling a little frustrated and sad. My heart was thumping very hard too, as if I was faced with some serious life challenges…

Then I remembered. My cultures got contaminated/infected yesterday.

I only meant to renew the cell culture medium (i.e. replenish food supply for the cells) yesterday. But when I took the 6-well plate, I observed that  the culture in 1 out of 4 wells was cloudy. Putting that well under the microscope, I saw fluffy balls of “things” suspended in the medium. Then I realized: my culture got contaminated.

No help was around to advice me on what to do. I texted my mentor for advice. For the first time in a long while, I had “Help~” in the SMS. I was truly helpless at that point.

Fast forward a few hours later, an email came in. My FYP professor advised on how I should handle the contaminated sample and how I should treat the other non-contaminated samples too. Back in the lab, the handling procedure was like I had 4 children, with one of them down with a serious, infectious disease. First, treat the infected child. Flood him with antibiotics to kill off all the bacteria that he is surrounded with. Next, soak him in a tub of warm water to prevent any bacteria from drying off his body and propagate to other samples on any draft of breeze. Then ignore him and put your full attention on the uninfected children. They might look visually uninfected, but one should take the cautionary precautions to prevent any future full blown infections. First, bring them over to a new house (6-well plate). Give each of them a bath, flood them with antibiotics, and bathe them down again. Then, feed them with comfort food and place them in the most comfy environment for them to rest. Lastly, pray for the best that the infection is cleared from all your children, and that they weren’t hurt by the side effects of the antibiotics.

Walking out of the clean room, my FYP professor happened to be in the lab too.

“How are your cells?”
“They are hospitalized.”
“At the ICU? They should be alright.”
“Yeah… If the contamination does not return…”
“It’s not so bad yet. Not all of your samples were contaminated…”
[Smiles weakly…]

I find it so ironic that just a few hours ago, in the morning, my FYP professor was just asking about my cell cultures. I hadn’t have the chance to observe them yet and said “They should be okay…” based on my observations 2 days ago.

Anyways… The whole contamination event was just uncalled for. I *think* I am a very careful person when handling my samples. I’ve handled samples that seem to be more contaminate-able (I need to handle them at a separate place outside the clean room) and yet they all turned out fine and healthy. And the fact that I have another FYP interim report due in weeks makes me more stressed.



5 thoughts on “Contamination

  1. hey, don’t worry, i experienced an actual one once (hope it will be the last) and suspected ones 2-3x. damn scary, it’s like being in the waiting area in the hosp. haha. shaved a couple of yrs off my life mans.

    stimes stuff like tt just happens, cheer up! :D:D:D maybe yr cells will be stronger after tt scare 😀 jiayous! 🙂

  2. I’m sure years off my lifespan was shaved off too. OH~! Why are our lives being controlled by the small yet mighty beings.

    Day 01 after decontamination: everything looks fine.. FYP professor said that if nothing happens in the next 2-3 days, the cultures should be fine… *Fingers crossed*

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