Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Gift of Life

It's been a while... too long, in fact. But over the past few years, this has slipped by the wayside and it's time to make it a regular part of things again.

I'm talking about donating blood.

It used to be easier to do, before I got into nursing. The hospital actually has blood donor clinics on occasion, but it's very difficult to take the time away from my unit to donate. So now, I have updated my info online with Canadian Blood Services and scheduled an appointment for Friday morning at their headquarters near the biggest hospital in town.

And having had a number of surgeries over the past decade, each one has required a wait of 6 months past each surgery before being eligible again. And those delays just make it slip my mind.

You can do all that online now, which is a huge bonus, because I can look at my work schedule and make an appointment for a day off. No longer a hit and miss thing, as in 'will I remember there's a donor clinic on such and such a date at such and such a location?" (The answer to that tends to be no these days.)

It would appear I am too old (!) for their stem cell donor program (max. age is 50 per the website) but whole blood, platelets and plasma are still on the list. Whole blood can be donated every 56 days, platelets every 14 days and plasma twice in 7 days to a max of 26 time in a year. I've only ever donated whole blood but am going to look into the plasma and platelets situation and see if I am better suited to one of those.

As a nurse, I have given many blood transfusions to patients, whole blood (more often than not), as well as plasma or platelets. I am very aware of the need for blood donors to roll up their sleeves. Did you know that there is almost always a shortage of blood? And that different surgeries require different amounts of blood (on average)? And that accident victims sometimes get many times their original amount of blood in the form of transfusions?

Considering the average human body contains about 5 liters of blood, if you look at that chart, you'll see that the need for blood is huge. A liver transplant may involve 100 units of blood. A unit is, on average, between 350 and 450 ml of blood. A measuring cup is 250 ml. And that 250 ml is 1/4 of a liter.

That's a lot of the red stuff. The stuff of life. Because without it, you're just dust in the wind. If you are able, please donate.


  1. Not a bad idea, it's been ages since I gave blood (Willingly) I wonder if they need a detoxification period before allowing us soused Scots in the blood van?
    Cheers, Sausuage...
    ps. I am a big lad but the needles put the fright in me...don't tell anyone.

  2. The best blood donation I ever did was at the Navy hospital in San Diego. They told us it was used to patch up wounded Marines and Sailors returned from Viet Nam.

    I am no longer an eligible donor.

  3. I'v never donated. I used to be afraid of having my blood drawn just for tests but somewhere in the last ten years I got over that. Now I have no problem, so I'll remember that the next time I see the blood mobile in my 'hood. Nice post and good for you for your donation.

  4. This reminds me of the Tony Handcock Blood Donor sketch!
    I've not given blood, I've wanted too, but I don't weigh enough... no doubt sometime in the future I will.

  5. My step-father had extraordinarily rare blood. O something or other. They rolled out the red carpet when he went to the donation center.

  6. SF: Lots of people (big and small) are afraid of needles. So you are not alone... and I won't tell anyone!

    LX: How cool is that! Knowing that your donation was going directly to your comrades in arms when they needed it most. :-)

    Boxer: I hope you do. It's definitely a much needed thing and not enough people donate.

    Scarlet: If you aren't big enough now, I'm betting you won't be at any time in the future. That's okay... a unit of blood would probably drain you dry!

    Hope: :-D

    UB: O negative, perhaps? The rarest is AB negative. I am O positive and share that with 48% of the population. We O's are in big demand. Do you donate?


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