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Giving 'til it hurts (just a little)

When I was in college, I met a woman who worked there, in the Women's Services Center (she and I met when I volunteered for a "safe rides" program). I was terribly impressed with her 5-gallon pin from the American Red Cross, and took it as a challenge: she was in her 40's, and I would have one of those of my very own before I was 30.

And I did it. I started going about every ten weeks or so, and a couple weeks before my 29th birthday, I won that coveted pin.

(For the record: one donation equals one pint, so eight donations equals a gallon of blood. And the average human body holds 10-12 pints of blood.)

Once I got that pin, though, I started slacking off. I eventually reached six gallons, but my donation rate trickled off until I was lucky if I made it once a year.

Hurricane Katrina reminded me of my sloth, and finally pushed me into resuming. Yesterday I went to the Red Cross, and got into line.

But I didn't have to wait long. I was asked if I'd like to donate just red blood cells instead -- the fact that my blood type is O+ seemed a bit of a bonus. It would take a bit longer, but if I agreed, I'd go right to the head of the line.

From what I understood, what they do is take out a pint of blood, separate out the red blood cells, then give you back the leftovers (along with some saline solution and some citrate). Then they take a second pint and do it again.

The drawback is that you can only do it half as often (you have to wait 16 weeks, not 8, before donating again), but they do give you "double credit." On the plus side, they can use the pure cells to help a lot more people than they can with whole blood.

So I went for it. With my iron count being a robust 46 (The minimum to donate is 40), I completed the process in a scant 32 minutes. The nurse might have been merely being kind, but she did say that was a record.

It actually hurt a little less than a regular donation. I do have a rather cool skinny half-inch bruise on the inside of my elbow to show from it, but otherwise no other problems. And the new bandages they use are quite nifty, and don't pull out arm hairs.

Now, I've never been much for jewelry. The only adornment I wear regularly is a MedicAlert-style bracelet for a a serious medical condition (and no, it's nothing that interferes with my donating blood), and I'm not really fond of that. But I do have that one piece of jewelry that I am inordinately proud of -- and it cost me a lot more than most anyone else pays for their bling.

So if you're capable and qualified, go give some blood. Give red blood cells, if you can.

Mr. Duckie wants you to.

Comments (14)

Wow, J, that's a really nic... (Below threshold)

Wow, J, that's a really nice arm!

I wish I could give blood, but I am forbidden. I'll supplement with other kinds of donations. ;o)

Me love is O- though- and donates often.

O+... now that blood is like gold to those red cross people!

Thanks for the kind words, ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Thanks for the kind words, Jewels, but while O+ may be "like gold," O- like your sweetie's is even more precious. My blood can be used by anyone whose blood is Rh+, but anyone can use his. My congratulations to him for giving -- and you for your other help.


I plan on going in first th... (Below threshold)

I plan on going in first thing Monday :-)

I grew envious at JayTea fo... (Below threshold)

I grew envious at JayTea for his pin, which he almost started wearing in the shower ( if rumors are accurate, as for me. It was an episode of the DeadZone that reminded me of what JayTea had done.. I hope to get my first gallon pin someday.. as I have given enough but the red cross seems a little preoccupied right now to worry about a pin. Although in the grand scheme I take pride in my daughter who saw me give blood and at 8.75 years said.. "When can I give some Daddy " Pride as a parrent takes many forms.

I'm doing the opposite -- m... (Below threshold)

I'm doing the opposite -- my blood is AB+, which is gold for platelets. On Wednesday, I'm giving a platelets-only donation for the first time. Platelets are much shorter-lived (storage-wise and otherwise) than red blood cells, so there's never a "backlog" of platelets. It only takes a couple days to completely replenish the platelets in your own body, so you can donate much more often.

They're used for cancer patients, mainly. If they try to take platelets from whole blood donations, it takes 5-10 units of whole blood to get the same amount of platelets.

So, if you've got AB+ blood, see if you can give platelets/plasma. They're helpful too -- people can bleed internally without the clotting ability of platelets.

I will never get a cool pin... (Below threshold)

I will never get a cool pin like that... because I donate through lifesource. For some reason I can donate through them but not the red cross.

Another suggestion... consider donating platelets through apheresis it takes a bit more time because your blood supply is put through a seperating machine. But platelets are very needed and cannot be frozen (they must be used in 5 days).

Thanks to Mad Cow Disease i... (Below threshold)

Thanks to Mad Cow Disease in England and having lived there more than 6 months, the Red Cross won't take my blood. I ongratulate you on your generosity, though. What a difference you make.

I gave blood on 9/1. I too... (Below threshold)

I gave blood on 9/1. I too have a lovely bruise on my inner elbow. Yay for bruises!

I've been doing the double-... (Below threshold)

I've been doing the double-red cell donation for a couple of years; they specifically requested I do so because I'm O-.

I thought about the platelets, but I don't think can give blood & platelets both, and they really want me to keep giving blood.

I'm O- but extremely needle... (Below threshold)

I'm O- but extremely needlephobic. I've steeled myself and given if not often...but the last time I almost had a panic attack (almost freaked the nurse).

I'm trying to psychic myself to try again because I know they can use the O- on anyone.

My daughters give regularly...luckily they don't have their mom's phobia.

Long ago vaccinated for Hep... (Below threshold)

Long ago vaccinated for Hepatitis (C and B), result is that I cannot donate blood.

But I'm very much admire those who can and do.

I'm almost up to 3 gallons ... (Below threshold)
OC Chuck:

I'm almost up to 3 gallons over the past number of years. I've got A Neg so I go when they call me.

A couple of years ago I got a T-shirt after donating that on the front said "Are you my type?" On the back it had the Red Cross logo. A good conversation starter.

Since 9/11 I found that any... (Below threshold)

Since 9/11 I found that anyone with a particular diseases, including my own, could not donate blood or organs and I'm surprised that knowing your physical health, that you can even donate blood at all.


I've been donating since I ... (Below threshold)

I've been donating since I was about 40, and I've got my 5 gallon pin (maybe 6 - I don't remember). My blood type is B+, so I tend to do apheresis (platelets or plasma). I don't donate as often as I can, but I try to do it several times a year. My last was a combined (platelets, plasma, and red cells) donation last Friday (scheduled well in advance of Katrina).






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