Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Share a pint~ ABC Wednesday: P is for pint~
Sharing a pint at lunchtime is common in some circles, but not something I typically do during my school lunch period. But today I did.
Massachusetts General Hospital's mobile blood van pulled into the school parking lot 8 a.m. and stayed until to 2 p.m.
Four phlebotomists worked steadily, drawing a pint from each of us who mounted the steps to enter the air-conditioned vehicle. We gave blood straight from the heart, both literally and figuratively.
Giving blood isn't a big deal. Really.
It's painless after the initial prick in the crook of your arm. The needle is taped in place and connected to plastic tubing that ends in a plastic pouch. When the pouch is full-- a pint equals a pound-- you're disconnected.
After the intake screening, it takes no longer than fifteen minutes to lose a pound. Then you get a drink and cookies.
Still, a pint is no small amount. Take a look at 16 ounces of water. Two cups. It looks like a lot. While healthy adults can lose that volume with little to no problem, it will take a while for blood counts to return to pre-donation levels.
Plasma volume returns to normal within a day. Red blood cells will be back to pre donation level in three to five weeks, and iron is replenished within six to eight weeks.
Giving blood isn't a big deal. For you.
But for the person who receives it, it's a very big deal, often the difference between life and death.
Someone needs blood every two seconds, according to the American Red Cross, but only about five percent of eligible donors actually give.
My father gave regularly. I don't think my mother ever did. This was my second time. But it won't be my last. I'm not type O+, the universal donor, for nothing.
*Donation given in memory of Matthew Westfield, oldest son of a friend and colleague who died more than twenty-years ago from leukemia at age seven.
ABC Wednesday is brought to you by: Mrs. Nesbitt's Place
The only gift is a portion of thyself. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson