It’s in you to pump out, spin through a centrifuge, separate plasma from red blood cells, return red blood cells to body with anti-coagulant, and give.
Hmmm. Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
Anyway, I went into the blood donation clinic yesterday to try my
hand arm at plasma donation. It went eh…
I’ve donated blood once before while I was in University. It was somewhat of a popular thing to do in my extracurricular social circle; the guys would guzzle as much water as they could handle during class, and then afterwards they’d go to the blood clinic and “race”. Basically they’d sit there squeezing the stress ball so the blood would flow faster while they timed it. As with most races, shortest time wins.
I decided to join them, though I had no intention of racing. At 115 lbs I was just above their size requirement of 50kg/110lbs for donation purposes. About 2/3 of the way into the donation I had to be disconnected because I was losing feeling in my arm and was VERY woozy. A 15 minute donation ended up stretching out to about 2 hours while one of my classmates nervously watched to make sure I was alright. I ended up being lethargic and having breathing difficulties for a little while afterwards.
The nurses said that happens to people because they’re freaked out by the sight of blood. Given that I grew up on a farm and helped with the slaughter of farm animals, I say not bloody likely. Pun not initially intended.
Fast forward to 5 years from then, and I decide I want to try my hand at this again. Only this time I don’t want to have the breathing difficulties, so I opt to have my red blood cells returned to me by just donating plasma. Plasma is replenished by the body in about 48 hours rather than the several weeks it takes to replenish whole blood, so it seemed like a less risky bet overall. They take the plasma, freeze it for 6 days while they’re testing your blood for viruses and whatnot, and then clear it for immediate use. Plasma usually goes to burn and cancer patients who need more blood volume, but aren’t strong enough for a whole blood transfusion just yet.
Some of you may be reading this thinking that the donation will help me pay off my debt. It won’t. Canada does not pay for blood, plasma and other fluid donations.
Rather than just keeping your information on file in the computer like they do with blood donations, they actually take your picture and put together a little binder of your information if you donate plasma. There’s now a little blue binder with my name on it there. If you’re a regular donator you can do it up to once a week rather than every 56 days with whole blood. That being said, they have a doctor on staff to check your protein levels and other metrics to make sure you’re replenishing fast enough to donate at that frequency. My iron and protein levels were good when I checked in, so they sent me to the question room with the nurse.
The nurse looked kind of sceptical when she saw me. That’s fair, I am kinda little.
The weight cut off is 50kg (110lbs). I clocked in a 50.2kg (110.4lbs), so I was still over their requirement bar. Looking back I was likely wearing more than 0.2kg worth of clothes. Either way, I was given the all clear.
The donation is done in stages. They take out 300ml (little over a cup) of blood at a time, separate it, bag the plasma, and then the machine returns your red blood cells to you before taking more blood. If you’re quick on math and conversions, you’ll notice that taking out 300ml of blood means I’m now below their weight requirement. Oops.
I watched with interest as everything went through the cycle and the plasma started to fill up the bag. I was just about to get my red blood cells back when I looked up at the nurse and realized the edges were starting to get more than a little fuzzy…
So, they kicked my feet up and we called it a day. I filled about a 1/3 of a bag with plasma, which if it was whole blood would be about the 2/3 of a bag I made it to last time. Fortunately for me I got my red blood cells back this time.
The nurse assured me that even though it wasn’t a whole bag they would still be able to use it. My guess, given that the bag was little, is that it’ll go to a patient at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. I can feel good about that.
But, in the mean time, I haven’t been quite firing on all cylinders since then. I may or may not try again. If I do I’m going to waterlog myself in advance. I’ll be back later today with my originally planned post. I’m going to snag a little more water and sleep first.
Recommended Reading: Going Beyond the Resume: How will Job Searching Change in the Future?