As I Live and Learn

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My Monthly Blood Parties

Ew! Get your mind outta there!

So what is a Blood Party you ask? It's where people join me in going to donate blood, and in return for donating I do something for those people. They occur once a month because I have gone to donating Apheresis over Whole Blood, and apheresis donations can be done every 4 weeks. (Whereas Whole Blood donations can be only done every 8 weeks.)

An Apheresis donation is where blood is taken from you, put through a machine that seperates it into Red Blood cells, Platelets, and Plasma, then takes only what you are donating that day, puts the rest of the blood back together, and that blood is returned to you. It's actually pretty cool. And they can do all that - plus they have you on an IV for saline and, if needed, anti-coagulant - through one needle! They take and return blood from the same arm, through the same needle. The needle is attached to three tubes, one for taking, one for return, and one for the IV. It really is very neat.

I enjoying learning something new about it each time a donate. Such as, Plasma is gold. Platelets are white, but since they are so fragile they can't be removed or transported on their own so they are collected in a slight bit of plasma, and you can see the "clouds" of platelets that gather in the plasma in the bottom of the collection bag. Platelets only live 5 days outside the human body, and can not be frozen. Plasma can be frozen. And the ability of types to donate red blood to each other is reversed for plasma! For example, as an A+ blood type I can give blood to A+ and AB+ types (44% of the population), but I can give plasma to A+, A-, O+, and O- types (85% of the population!). So it's more effective for me to give plasma than whole blood. Plus I can give platelets at the same time, which live so short they are almost always needing to be donated. In fact, people who donate only platelets can donate every 2 weeks (instead of 4).

Blood Parties started because of a "Donor News" mailing I received from my local Red Cross which announced a new campaign for 2007. (This is a collage of the relevant stuff.)

A new pin for each month for Apheresis donors! And they turn into a calender when all together. So cool! At first I was a bit shamed to admit it. I mean, I have to be bribed to do something good? And a cheap bribe at that! A little pin? But really, the program was made to get people in. And if all the incentive I need is a set of little pins to collect, why is that bad? The program is working for me. So I thought, can I make things better by getting more people involved too?

Thus monthly Blood Parties were born. Me gathering up friends (and whomever wants to) to come donate whole blood while I donate apheresis, and then me thanking them with something afterwards. The first time it was taking them out to lunch.

My friend Jessie D. named these events. I was trying to call them "Donation Saturday", but "Blood Party" sounds much more interesting. :) And it's appropriate, if you think right!

More links for info on donating blood:
Platelet Apheresis



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