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April 23, 2005
Obey the Sticker

I give blood regularly. I've done so since I was 18.

Because of my size commitment to helping the community, I do double red-cell donations. For such donations, the Red Cross folks hook the donor up to a machine which then extracts twice as much blood as a usual donation (no, not all at once), sorts out the red cells which are kept for medical use, and then returns the plasma to the donor via the same needle through which it was extracted.

It's a pretty spiffy way to donate blood. You are basically doing two donations in one visit, which means that instead of going in to donate every eight weeks, you go every sixteen weeks, and still get "credit" for the same number of donations... not that credit matters. And they use a smaller needle (if that's important to you.) Plus, you get a spiffy sticker plastered on your shirt:

Blood Donor Sticker

The downside is that you're missing twice as many of the oxygen-carrying red cells, and it can take a while to recover full capacity.

Also, it feels like the machine refrigerates the plasma before returning it to the body — I think that's merely because the blood spends enough time outside the body to drop in temperature before the plasma is returned. The Red Cross folks keep blankets handy, because most double-donors get chills during the process.

And of course, it takes longer. With a regular donation, I can squeeze out a unit of blood in under ten minutes. The double donation process takes a good deal longer; I think I was hooked up to the machine for about half an hour today.

Not everyone can do double donations. You have to be above a certain height and weight, and your blood iron has to be above a certain level. (Here's a fact sheet.) They also usually prefer donors with blood type O, though other blood types might periodically be in demand. If you meet those criteria, I recommend it.

Even if you can't do double donations, I think anyone who can should give blood regularly.

Posted by Russ at 01:52 PM, April 23, 2005 in Personal Stuff

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I used to give blood regularly. Then some bright person decided to set up 'reminder' calls in my area after two months had passed. After getting 1-2 calls every evening for over a week when I was sick and thus unable to contribute, I lost my temper and sent a cease and desist snailmail. I gave blood one time after that, obtaining a promise that I would stay on the no contact list. After that promise was broken two months later, I re-sent my cease and desist letter, adding that they would never see a drop of my blood again.

Posted by: tweell [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2005 10:26 AM