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The Biomedical Engineering blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to engineering principles of the medical field. Here, you'll find everything from discussions about emerging medical technologies to advances in medical research. The blog's owner, Chelsey H, is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

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Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

Posted December 01, 2009 12:00 AM by Jaxy

Giving blood has a big impact on people and it only takes is a couple of minutes of your time. You can save as many as three lives just by donating once.

There are quite a few eligibility requirements, but if you are generally healthy, what is preventing you from giving blood?

General Requirements

In order to give blood, you must be at least seventeen-years-old and weigh at least 110 pounds. Some states allow sixteen-year-olds to give blood and others don't, so check your state's laws on donating to see if you are eligible. You cannot give blood if you have donated whole blood in the past eight weeks; if you gave double blood, the time needs to exceed sixteen weeks.

For chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, you can still donate provided that you are being treated and it is under control. You must not have a fever above 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit or else you will not be able to donate. Your blood pressure, pulse, and iron count will also be measured. Blood eligibility guidelines can be found in more detail on the American Red Cross website.

Tips for a Smooth Experience

There are many things that you can do to make your blood donation experience a good one. Before donating, make sure that you get a good nights rest and that a solid meal precedes donating. Drink extra water and fluids and avoid tea, coffee, or other beverages with caffeine. Try to avoid fatty foods as lipids can affect tests that search for infections.

Make sure to wear a shirt that has sleeves that can be rolled above the elbow. After donating, snacks and drinks will often be provided, but don't stop re-hydrating your body after your pit stop at the refreshments table. It is suggested that you drink fluids abundantly for the next day or two. Do not immediately engage in working out or any other sort of strenuous activity after giving blood.

Currently, only 3% of Americans donate blood. Blood can only come from volunteers; there is no alternative to blood even though there is always someone in need of it. So, consider donating blood for someone in need. The next entry in this series will go over making sure that you have enough iron in your diet to keep you eligible to donate blood.

Other Parts of this Series:

Part 1: Giving Blood to Save a Life (December 1st)

Part 2: Are You Getting Enough Iron? (December 8th)

Part 3: What Happens to My Donated Blood? (December 15th)

Editors Note: Links will only work if the blog has already been posted.

Resources:

http://www.redcross.org/en/eligibility

http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.d8aaecf214c576bf971e4cfe43181aa0/?vgnextoid=d0061a53f1c37110VgnVCM1000003481a10aRCRD&vgnextfmt=default

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#1

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/01/2009 12:33 AM

You do have the most extraordinary timing in your blog topics, Jaxy! I donated blood just 12 hours ago, something I try to do every 8 weeks. Failing that, I try to do it at least 4X or so annually. And I'm proud to say I'm coming up on my 3 gallon mark.

For awhile I was donating platelets instead of just straight blood donations. The apheresis process is a little more complex and takes a bit longer--blood is drawn from one arm, processed through a magical gizmo, and returned to the other arm.

Everyone who is healthy enough to do so, and who meets the guidelines, should donate. I consider it one of the few things I do altruistically just because it's, well, a good thing to do.

So everybody get out there and vote, eat all your vegetables, be kind to dumb animals and people, and donate blood.

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#3
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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/01/2009 10:57 AM

Some people donate to save lives, others do it for the cookies, but either way, it is a good thing to do no matter your reasoning.

I just donated for the second time less than a month ago, but I brought two people with me. They also want to donate on a regular basis now too.

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#2

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/01/2009 1:09 AM

EXCELLENT!!!! discussion topic.

Lining up for donation 67 this Friday. Apheresis can be done each fortnight in Aus, with whole blood at 12 weeks.

Similar "witholding" periods after donations.

Just think of it this way, the blood bank does a free "mini check-up" for you every time you attend.

I know of people detected with high blood pressure and/or irregular heartbeats long before they had heart attacks or strokes and had relatively minor treatment rather than finding out too late.

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#4

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/01/2009 11:23 AM

Very good post Jaxy: ,

The company I worked for sponser the drives, which got me started to donated until a time in my life I was turn downed due to health issues. I believe I had only doated as total of about 2 gallons in all.

It was quite relaxing.....especially when the nurse does a good job on the stick

reasons varied why I donated, but it was a good feeling as well as givig plasma, (my girlfriend does this )

p911

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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/01/2009 11:40 AM

I believe I had only donated as total of about 2 gallons in all.

There is no such thing as only donating a certain amount. No matter the quantity donated, you saved lives. Just because you can't donate anymore doesn't mean that you can't volunteer if you still want to help out (I always like the people who hand me cookies and juice).

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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/01/2009 12:56 PM
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#6

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/01/2009 11:51 AM

"A positive" thing to do?

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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/01/2009 11:59 AM

Only if one is feeling sanguine.

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#39
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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/12/2009 12:59 PM

Ohhhh: Negative!

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#9

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/01/2009 4:57 PM

Here in SA it take longer to fill in the form than donating. They ask all sorts of questions mainly to eliminate HIV.

Now that I am 65 I am only allowed to donate 4 times a year and must also submit a letter from the doctor on an annual basis.

I fainted once. At that stage my meals did not come regularly and one did arrives from a different direction each day. and that was before the cookies.

I have a badge here somewhere with a bar beneath my bird.

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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/01/2009 5:50 PM

I fainted once. At that stage my meals did not come regularly and one did arrives from a different direction each day. and that was before the cookies.

Alot of interest things happen, company (shipyard) where I worked sponsoed the blood drive,

One time the morning of the Blood Drive, in the machine shop we were cuttig some exotic metal that reacted to coolant, so I did some R&D tests of using the chip load to carry away the heat, I had open sleeved gloves on.

That afternoon when the nurse was going to check my iron, I rolled up the sleeve, and it had alot of blistering from the hot chip load, she gasped so did I and she asked if I was out of the country recently, I explained to her about the test earlier, she had a look of disbelief, and I reach into my shirt pocket and pulled out a handful of chips (yes the test was successful and the chips were flying, vacuum system could not keep up), then she understood, and continued.

p911

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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 1:10 AM

Here in SA it take longer to fill in the form than donating. They ask all sorts of questions mainly to eliminate HIV.

In Hungary we also have a two-page form (mainly with check boxes) but I think it's necessary and you cannot regret to spend that 2 minutes.

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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 4:33 AM

Here in SA it take longer to fill in the form than donating

In the UK regular donors get the form sent to them a couple of weeks beforehand so you can turn up with it all completed. The donor stations are usually temporary, set up for the day in local church halls or similar. You can also book a time slot for your session.

I think I'm approaching something like my 40th donation.

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#11

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/01/2009 10:39 PM

I'm working of 4 gallons, giving about 4x/yr. Time it right and you can get some nice T shirts, too.

My wife once accused me of thinking I know everything (engineering occupational hazard - projecting self-confidence becomes a habit). I told her "That's right, even my blood is A+!"

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#12

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/01/2009 11:58 PM

I have heard somewhere that in the USA blood donations are actually paid for. Is this right?

The Australian Red Cross take a blood donation of about 0.44 of a litre/liter. I have 63 donations running around in other people. That is about 7.3 US gallons.

I hope there is someone out there in CR4 land that can top that.

Among other things I am a first aid officer with the Bush Fire Brigade and I have seen the amazing difference a shot of fresh blood can make.

BAB

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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 12:06 AM

Good on ya! 7 gallons---that's a whole lot of BlueAussieBoy flowing in other people's veins. You are to be commended.

The bulk of U.S. donations are through the Red Cross and other regional and local blood banks and blood centers. The donations are entirely voluntarily, and the only thing the donor receives is cookies and juice. Or, as someone else mentioned, you might get some other premium, like a T-shirt.

Of course, I also receive the warm feeling knowing that I am going to milk every donation by announcing to all within earshot that I have been instructed to do no heavy lifting, cooking, or cleaning for weeks afterward.

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#14
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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 12:15 AM

When you give plasma you can give up to twice a week

Depending your location, if you give once a week its time is $20.0-$30.00 , and if you can give twice a week its from $55.00- $70.00. depending where you are, you can pull in upto $70.00 cash a week.

there still a shortage of plasma, but the centers are full, they just close one down and built a more efficient one in our area, and thats full, with extended hours, pretty much by appontment (internet) only.

p911

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#17
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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 3:12 AM

Good one BAB. The others seem to have sidestepped your challenge, but read on.

Friday will be number 67 for me. Around 40 of those are plasma (can donate each two weeks) and I'm now on the "prefered donor" list so they take 740ml from me each plasma, but only the 440 when it's whole blood.

Only started to find out what my blood type was, but really love the caramel smoothies, biscuits and cake we get at our local centre.

We do have the option to take time off work to donate, but that just wouldn't seem right.

I did once get a call to donate blood at 6 weeks. Something about freezer failure and hospital surgical lists. Managed to get 8 other donors from work to come within the hour.

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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 7:10 AM

Think I can - think I can. I have a badge for 100 pints. Have given a few more than that but not sure exactly how many more. Had to stop a few years ago as on blood thinning medication. I also have my father's badge for giving 150 pints. When he donated in the then Southern Rhodesia you got a pint of beer after giving blood. My how things have deteriorated there. Cookies come a poor second. I started giving blood when I was an apprentice on the South African Railways (Spoories for the initiated) as they gave you an hour off on a Wednesday afternoon if you gave blood.

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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 12:38 AM

I have been a blood-donor since 1967. It does not cost anything, can be helpful for others and you get a fast medical checkup every time you give blood. In Hungary you can give blood between 18 and 65, four times a year. My next action will be due next week.

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#20

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 7:10 AM

My father set a good example for me as I was growing up. He has always given blood religiously (how else would a minister do it?) as often as he could. So now I give. Somehow it has always intuitively felt like a healthy thing to do, but I never really knew why.

Recently I read some information by Dr. Michael Eades about the danger of too much iron. We typically hear about anemia (not having enough), but rarely about too much. The body does everything it can to hide iron that it doesn't require as it can wreak havoc on your body. Back before John Snow came along (a London physician in the 1800s who made the connection of cholera and sewage and started the science of epidemiology), our ancestors had parasites which would utilize some of the iron we consume. Now in all but third World countries we are free of most parasites. Consequently, there is no way to get rid of excess iron other than by bleeding. Dr. Eades discusses how the severity of heart attacks and strokes are influenced by the amount of iron in the blood and that it's not the lack of oxygen due to a clot that causes the most damage but when fresh oxygen rich blood finally gets past the blockage coming into contact with iron that is no longer bound (due to the blockage the cells protecting the body from the iron die because of lack of oxygen in turn leaving the iron exposed). The result is a free-radical reaction that is devastating. There is speculation that women have higher life expectancy than men primarily because they bleed more (or used to). It used to be that women would bleed every month to some degree and would bleed a lot during child birth. So the average woman's iron accumulation would be much lower than the average man's. Along comes the pill and women working more staying at home less....and guess what...we see a higher rate of deaths do to stroke and heart attacks in women than we used to.

Why do I bring this up? My father recently (almost two years ago) had a stroke. It was mild and he has suffered none of the typical after affects we associated with someone having a stroke such as slurred speech, paralysis on one side, etc. It could be that he was really fortunate or it could be that his iron level was low enough that the stroke was not as damaging as it would be if his iron level had been much higher. I have no way of knowing for sure if his donating blood helped, if the good Lord intervened and protected him from a severe stroke or the Lord protected him indirectly (giving him the desire to help others through donating blood), but if keeping your iron level from getting too high helps keep one healthy in old age, that's another positive and free benefit of donating blood beyond feeling good about helping others.

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#21

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 7:14 AM

I have donated blood since about 1964. I achieved 50 pints with the British RC many years ago.

I am not allowed to give blood in Germany because I lived in the UK in 1980!!! Mad Cow disease is the reason (Kreuz-Jakob Krankheit!). Even though in Germany that had mad cow disease as well!!! But much later. The authorities here were under the impression it could not happen here, so no protection was made for the herds.....!!!!! Stupidity....

i must admit I haven't asked recently to see if the restriction has been removed or not, I will do that and start again if the restriction has been lifted. Thanks for the "heads up".

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#22
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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 8:48 AM

Prior to donating in the U.S., one has to answer a list of computerized questions, such as have you been to the UK or Africa in the last few years, does anyone in your family have Kreuz-Jakob, do you have reason to believe you have been exposed to HIV, have you had any accidental needle sticks in the last year, had any tattoos in the last year, etc. A drop of blood taken from one finger is checked for hematocrit (iron) percentage, and the donor is examined for blood pressure, pulse, and body temp. Then it's on to blood withdrawal and sugary treats.

I've only been turned down once--for very low blood pressure. Talk about Mad Cow.

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#23

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 9:11 AM

I have donated blood 56 times to date and started back in the early 70's when I was curious what blood type was ( O + i.e. a universal giver ) ! I feel good giving blood and most of the time the process is quite painless and I get to flirt with some of the pretty nurses !

I had to stop for awhile fairly recently since I had iron deficient anemia and I suspect that I was giving blood too often ( i.e. every 56 days ). Here in Canada we also have to answer a long questionnaire to rule out HIV and other diseases and yes we also get the free cookies and coffee afterwards.

Do the Americans and people from other countries get paid sometimes for their donations ?

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#24
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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 10:25 AM

I think people who have O+ blood can only donate to people who have a positive blood type also. Only people with O- blood can donate to anybody/everybody.

I have never been paid for any of my whole blood donations, but then again, I have never needed to (USA).

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#28
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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 1:51 PM

I am the complete opposite blood group to you, I can (if I remember correctly) take any other blood type!! Useful for me.....though I have never needed to have any blood "back" so to say.....

Its also deemed to be a "rare type, that is more than 200 people would need to be screened to find a compatible donor.

See for fuller details of all blood groups:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_blood_group_systems

But as I can accept as good as any other group, this is not a problem....

If you check here:-

http://www.myoptumhealth.com/portal/ADAM/item/Blood+typing?section=3

You will find this table showing general compatibility, not detailed though....:-

  • If you have type A blood, you can only receive types A and O blood.
  • If you have type B blood, you can you can only receive types B and O blood.
  • If you have type AB blood, you can only receive types A, B, AB, and O blood.
  • If you have type O blood, you can you can only receive type O blood.
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#25

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 11:06 AM

I have donated often in the past. But past seventy I cannot do so any more in India. Being somewhat underweight added a bit to the problem. Till mid eighties bulk of the blood collected in India was in glass bottles. Mostly used for whole blood transfusion. A few blood banks were importing blood bags and doing component separation. It gave me great satisfaction to have been steering a team that developed India's first medical device, the blood bag, which is now into its 25th year in the market.

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#26

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 1:15 PM

Have always been there when there was a need for blood just one problem.

I've never been able to give much more then 1/2 pint before the blood would clot up in the tubing. If you don't give a 1/2 pint they don't count it.

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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 1:25 PM

ozzb,

concerned about your statement;

I've never been able to give much more then 1/2 pint before the blood would clot up in the tubing.

You should have a blood protein test and your cholesterol checked. Not only to safeguard from heart attacks but also strokes.

p911

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#29
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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 2:07 PM

Good advice.

I have taken a small aspirin tablet every day for the last 30 years or so......my blood is very "thin"!!

I remember once trying to sell blood somewhere in the world (forget where, but probably the far east, maybe Hong Kong) with a friend of mine, both of us serving in the RN at the time. We were stony broke, he was unacceptable because at the sight of the needle he fainted, I was unacceptable because my blood group apparently is almost never seen in Asian people!!! No money and no blood changed hands/arms!!

I had another colleague who sold several pints of his blood within a few days, drank a lot of beer on the profits and consequently collapsed and had to be given whole blood to keep him alive!!! I never found out exactly how much he donated.......wild talk on the mess deck of 4 pints I do not really believe, but who knows.....? I'm not a doctor.....I know only that he was both drunk and very ill!!!

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#32
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Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 4:24 PM

They have been done several times they found nothing wrong with either. Most of these times that I gave blood were as a young man 20 to 30 years ago. Test where done then. I kind of gave up as I was not accomplishing anything nobody was getting credit and the amount they got was pretty much use less.

Have had a physical just about every year, cholesterol has been normal. Have had stress test in the last 3 years.

I thank you for your concern.

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#30

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 2:07 PM

I have been pushed to donate for years being I have blood type O-. But until it pays I am keeping it. Sorry but being I got $50 a week for two years donating plasma and was continually told that my blood is more valuable I put a sticker price on mine.

I may be selfish and greedy but when a person told me they needed a transfusion during a surgical operation and their bill was near $1000 a pint I questioned who was getting the money for it. The person who donated it surely wasn't.

If a friend or family member is hurt and needs it thats different they can have it direct from the tap with no complaint from me. Just don't stick them for a $1000 a pint for it or you will be seeing me later.

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 2:15 PM

Your point taken, it is your blood.

If a friend or family member is hurt and needs it thats different they can have it direct from the tap with no complaint from me. Just don't stick them for a $1000 a pint for it or you will be seeing me later.

My dad had open heart surgery, and he received names from people who donated in his name, When I used to donate, I don't recall that.

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#40
In reply to #30

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/12/2009 1:06 PM

I'm also O-Neg so I try to give as often as I can! If I ever need blood, I can ONLY receive O-Neg. I won't care who donated it, that person will be my hero, paid or not.

So, blood donation allows me to be a hero, for free. I like that.

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#33

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 8:06 PM

The first time I donated was in Hong Kong in 1973. My ship was tied up there and the red cross called for volunteers and offered a bottle of beer in exchange. It seemed like a good deal at the time.

Take one skinny runt, suck out a pint of blood and add 750ml of beer (one pint +) mix with tropical heat and it was stirred and shaken that I was.

Blood is not equal to beer.

BAB

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#36
In reply to #33

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/04/2009 5:00 AM

First time I donated blood in the Army. That time military service was compulsory in Hungary and every blood donor got two days leave... Then, I found that it was not a big deal so I've become a regular donor.

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#34

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/02/2009 8:45 PM

I commend all of you who have ever given blood. I would also ask you all to be an organ donor. I'm alive today only because of a liver transplant. Lots of people die every day for lack of transplants.

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#35
In reply to #34

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/03/2009 10:34 PM

I'm using all my organs right now, but they will be available when I'm finished with them.

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#37
In reply to #35

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/04/2009 8:14 AM

That'l do, that'l do. The life (lives) you save won't be your own.

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#38

Re: Giving Blood to Save a Life (Part 1)

12/11/2009 10:38 PM

I used to donate regularily but now they won't take my blood.

The first time I was told no I had returned from the Persian Gulf where I was stationed on board an Aircraft Carrier.

They finally rescinded that ban, but then they noticed that I lived in Europe from 1989 to 1992. And now I can't donate because I may be infected with Bovine Spongioform Encephalitis or some such thing that can't be tested.

So here I am a universal donor, O+, and no one will take my blood. Not even for training and testing reasons. Go figure.

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