Saturday, October 31, 2009

02009 New Year's Resolution #34: Feed the Vampires

I used to donate blood very frequently. I went in for apheresis donations (platelets) quite regularly. I have lost count of how many pints of blood product I have donated over the course of my lifetime, but I know that it's somewhere well north of ten gallons. The skin in the crooks of my elbows is a mess of scar tissue from all of those Red Cross needles.

I view blood donation as my civic duty. I have all of this extra blood that I'm not using and I know that there are people who can benefit from it. I have never done anything to put my blood at risk for causing anyone harm. And I am somehow a member of the minority of people who are not infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV), which makes my blood products particularly valuable for certain types of recipients.

Sadly, I have not been quite as diligent in my donation schedule in recent days as I used to be. I donated whole blood last week and 9 weeks before that and I think about 8 or 9 weeks before that. But I have not been in for a platelet donation since December of 02007.

In January of 02008, I started a job that made it impossible to spend very many waking hours with my darling wife. I was working evenings while she was working days. So basically, we saw each other on weekends and during her 1/2 hour lunch breaks during the work week. I missed her desperately. Because her lunch breaks were about the only time we got to spend together (awake) during the week, that was my priority rather than devoting 4-5 hours to making the trip to Manchester and getting hooked up to the apheresis machine.

In July, I was laid off from that job. My work schedule is now much kinder, as Beth and I now get to spend every evening together. Plus, my current schedule has me off from work on Tuesdays and Fridays. Which means that I can now make my thirty-fourth New Year's Resolution of 02009:

I resolve to fit regular visits to the American Red Cross into my schedule. I will not merely wait for a blood drive to come conveniently close to home on a day when I don't have to work. Instead, I will make a point of scheduling appointments and making the trip to Manchester to give away my platelets.

This may end up meaning that I will essentially give up on whole blood donations in favor of the apheresis appointments. That may not be quite so good for the whole blood supply. But because I won't have to wait 8 weeks between donations, I will be able to greatly increase the total amount of blood product that I put into the system. I may not make the maximum of 24 platelet donations per year, but I'm certainly aiming to donate a whole lot more often than I have done in the last year (which I think probably amounts to a pitiful 5 or 6 donations).

If I can help save more lives, that's generally good, right?

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