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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

United Blood Services

I gave blood today.  I like giving blood, it makes me feel like I'm doing something good for the world.

I've given 11 times.  I am a power red donor which means that I give a pint of red blood as opposed to a pint of whole blood.  In a traditional blood donation, donors give whole blood—which consists of red cells, plasma and platelets. With the automated process called double red cell donation, donors can give just red cells—but two units of red cells—and that’s the component of blood that is in the greatest demand.

Before you give blood they take your red blood count.  It's a measure of how much iron is in your blood.  Mine usually runs in the high 40s.  I've actually measured a 49% once which I think is an automatic flag for blood doping. 

I have always wondered how giving blood should affect physical performance.  An average human male has between 8 and 10 units (a pint more or less) of blood.  I'm shorter than average so let's say I have 8 pints (1 gallon) of blood in my body.  At 50% red blood that means I have 4 pints of red blood.  If I donate 2 pints of red blood I should really kill my body's ability to move oxygen through my blood.  I've never been able to test my math until today.

Finally, after asking again and again, they took my iron level AFTER they took my blood as well as before.  My measurement before giving was 43.5% and after if was 39.3%, a drop of 4.2 or 10%.  Not exactly the dramatic 50% reduction I was counting on.  We'll see later today and tomorrow if I feel the effects.

NOTE TO UNITED BLOOD SERVICES - Here are some ways that you can make life easier for people donating blood. 

1.  When someone makes a 9:00 appointment, get them into the interview room at 9:00 am. 
2.  When you schedule someone for a dual RBC, have a machine available for them.
3.  Figure out a way to make the blood donation tax deductible.
4.  Make the room comfortable instead of the 65 degrees that it always seems to be.