Monday, November 2, 2009

Yes, I am Special

Well, today, my being taller and weighing more than the average Joe (or should I say Josephine, as I am female) paid off for some poor person who doesn't even know it yet. Unlike a dear cousin of mine, I was not fiscally cunning enough to go to the place where they actually pay me to be poked with a needle and lie watching my blood float through a tube for 40 minutes, but oh well...more brownie points in heaven, right?

Because the stars were aligned just so, (i.e. my iron count was above 40%, my blood is O+ [it has to be O or B], my blood pressure was amazing [120/60--that's fantastic for my genes], and my height and weight meet whatever the Red Cross requirements are, they asked me to be a "Double Red Cell Donor."

The ability to perform this procedure apparently involves a fairly new bit of technology, and the latent student-who-was-once-going-to-be a-doctor in me woke up when I learned how it all works, so I thought I'd enlighten you:

A small needle (smaller than the one they use for regular blood donation) is inserted into the donor's arm. The whole blood is separated into red blood cells and plasma. The red blood cells are then drawn into two separate bags, while the plasma and a "volume replacer" (saline solution) are returned to the donor. The donor therefore has a lower total volume of blood loss and is also left more hydrated, while actually giving twice the amount of a regular "whole blood" donation. Cool, eh?

I also was interested to learn about the different blood types:

The most common blood type in the United States is O+, making up about 37% of the population, closely followed by A+, which makes up nearly 36%. The least common is AB-, consisting of barely half of one percent of the population.

Here is a table showing to and from whom one may give and receive blood. I cadged it (that's a new word I learned today, by the way) from a Red Cross website:

Type You Can Give Blood To You Can Receive Blood From
A+ A+ AB+ A+ A- O+ O-
O+ O+ A+ B+ AB+ O+ O-
B+ B+ AB+ B+ B- O+ O-
AB+ AB+ Everyone
A- A+ A- AB+ AB- A- O-
O- Everyone O-
B- B+ B- AB+ AB- B- O-
AB- AB+ AB- AB- A- B- O-

A few things I learned from this table:
**Life is unfair for O-.
**AB+ are moochers. (Just kidding, just kidding, I'm sure they can't help it.)

A few other interesting facts:
**Type O- blood is the preferred type for accident victims and babies needing exchange transfusions
**There is always a need for Type O donors because their blood may be transfused to a person of any blood type in an emergency
**Someone is in need of blood every two seconds
**Blood has a limited shelf-life. Red blood cells, the portion of blood most commonly used for trauma patients, are only good for 42 days, and platelets, commonly used for cancer patients, are only good for five days
**Only 5 percent of the eligible United States population donates blood
**It is safe for a healthy donor to donate plasma up to twice a week, a pint of blood every 56 days, or 2 pints of red cells every 112 days
**The average adult has about 10 to 12 pints of blood in his/her body. Roughly 1 pint is given during a donation
**One donation can help save the lives of up to 3 people
**Red Cross donors are 50% male, 50% female
**You must be at least 17 years old, weigh more than 110 pounds, and be in good general health to donate
**If you began donating blood at age 17 and donated every 56 days until you reached 76, you would have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially helping save over 1,000 lives

More interesting facts:

Okay, that's my plug for the Red Cross. Go donate.

1 comment:

LaShel said...

That's so cool. In fact, I think your post has just inspired me to try to donate blood next time... I never have before, and I no longer have any excuses. Plus, your chart totally makes me want to find out my blood type.