Sunday, August 05, 2007

Some Blood

I had a blood-oriented weekend. Friday I went to the blood center to donate platelets, and Saturday the Artsgarden hosted a blood drive. Friday at the blood center, a few people in line didn't look like regular donors; I asked the staff and found out that they're giving away Korn tickets. That explained the youth and tattooed/pierced nature of the people waiting to donate. And at the Artsgarden's blood drive we gave away 311 tickets, which helped draw a crowd. The Artsgarden blood drive was successful; they would've been happy with 32, and we had 45 donors. And the blood center staff is always good to work with, so we're happy to have them.

In case you didn't know this, the blood bank can't require that you donate to get the concert tickets. If you just show up and ask for the tickets, they'll give them to you even if you have no intention of donating. The Indiana Blood Center can't do anything that resembles paying for donations. Students can't even get extra credit for donating at school blood drives. They don't want to give potential donors any incentive to lie on the questionnaire, and they don't want anyone to donate if they know they shouldn't, just to get some free stuff.

It's federal law that no blood product from a paid donor is human-transfusable. The Plasma Alliance, where students and winos sell plasma for money, can't actually send any of that to hospitals. Sure, their ads make it sound like you're helping people when you sell your plasma. But it doesn't go to hospital patients; it goes to labs where they spin components out of the plasma which are sold to research labs or -- disturbingly -- cosmetics companies. Just think about the crackhead selling plasma the next time you smear on some eyeliner!

If I were ever in the hospital in need of blood products, the volunteer donor base would make me feel a lot better about what I was receiving. And I like supporting the system, so I donate whenever I get the chance. I don't donate whole blood; rather, I donate platelets. Whole blood donations take 15 or 20 minutes, but platelet donors are in the chair for as long as two hours. A machine pumps out my blood, spins out the platelets, and gives me back my red cells. You can only donate whole blood every eight weeks, but you can do platelets every two. I've got the free time, and I like having a chance to relax on a comfy couch for two hours, so I do platelets. Also, I'm a useful blood type (O-neg, universal donor), and I have rare immune factors that make my blood and platelets ideal for extremely immune-suppressed patients. Knowing that my platelets go mostly to chemo patients and premature babies gives me extra incentive to donate.

And you should think about it too. If you can, and if you haven't in a while, head over to your local blood center and part with some Precious Bodily Fluids. You'll be helping to keep complete strangers alive and healthy, which has to be good for one's karma....

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