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Giving blood

Postby cfitz on Thu Dec 30, 2004 12:51 am

Spazmogen's thread on giving to the tsunami disaster victims brings up a related topic for me: giving blood.

I've given blood to the Red Cross about 10 times in my life, but stopped a few years ago because I had some less than pleasant experiences (physically). They left me alone for a while but lately they've been hounding me with phone calls. They've been calling once a week for the last month or so.

Each time I told them I wasn't ready to donate at this time, but when I felt able to I would contact them. But that didn't stop the phone calls. Finally I got two phone calls in one week, the second one yesterday. That passed a threshold of patience in me, so I told the caller that I was tired of the phone calls and if they continued to call I would swear off giving blood permanently.

Well, that got the solicitor's attention. She apologized, said she understood that such a volume of calls would be annoying and promised that she would do her best to make sure the calls stopped (until February :roll: ). Then she asked if any of the previous callers had told me why they wanted my blood so badly. I told her no, and she proceeded to explain.

Apparently I am O+, CMV (cytomegalovirus) negative. The type O blood is good for universal donating (the only thing better would be O-), but more importantly only 20% of the population is CMV negative. CMV is a virus in the herpes family that is very common and harmless to a healthy individual, but can kill someone with a faulty immune system.

Anyway, my combination of type O with CMV negative puts me in a class of highly sought after donors whose blood is the only kind that can be safely given to immuno-compromised patients such as newborns, premature infants, pregnant women, bone marrow and organ transplant recipients and HIV patients. Toss in the traditional peak in demand and drop in supply during the holidays, and they really want my blood.

So now I feel guilty for not giving. Yet at the same time I'm not sure that I am up to giving at this time. What to do... #-o

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Re: Giving blood

Postby dodecahedron on Thu Dec 30, 2004 12:59 am

cfitz wrote:the only thing better would be O-

hehe... i'm O- :D :D :D

i've no idea if i'm CMV positive or negative.

i'm a member of what they call Blood Donor's Organization.
basically what this means is that i'm not supposed to go and donate blood voluntarily whenever i feel like it, but only when they ask me. presumably they want to have a pool of people available on demand when there's some sort of emergency (when you donate, you're not supposed to donate for the next 3 months).

usually i'm asked to donate about 3 times a year, usually around the major holidays.

i think i've donated around 25 times or so in my life...i really should do it more often.
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Postby Spazmogen on Thu Dec 30, 2004 2:01 pm

I used to give @ the Red Cross until I as asked never to donate blood again.


Yes, you read that right.

The nurses always had a hard time finding the vein in either arm.
After one nurse tried 3x in each arm, I actually passed out on them. I wonder why? The nurses actually requested that I not donate, being that I pass out easily! So I used to volunteer as a telephone solicitor to get people to come out and donate... :oops: Sorry cfitz !

I'm AB+ by the way. Basically, a useless blood type for anyone except the AB group. Which is less than 10% of the population.

In total, I've probably donated 12-15x.

I thought about donating platelets, but I imagine it would have the same result.
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Postby dodecahedron on Thu Dec 30, 2004 4:27 pm

interesting.
i've never had any sort of side-effect to donating.
as soon as they are done drawing the blood and bandaging me up, i can right away get up and be on my way. never had any faint or queesy feelings or the like.

i've always thought that it might be because i'm tall - 193cm = 6'3", and weigh around 85-90kg (200lb ?) so taking 1 unit of blood out of my body isn't a big drain on the resources. but i've no idea if this reasoning is true. i've read once that any queesyness, headaces of fainting after donating blood is just psychosomatic.
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Postby Spazmogen on Thu Dec 30, 2004 5:39 pm

dodecahedron wrote:interesting...

i've always thought that it might be because i'm tall - 193cm = 6'3", and weigh around 85-90kg (200lb ?) so taking 1 unit of blood out of my body isn't a big drain on the resources. but i've no idea if this reasoning is true. i've read once that any queesyness, headaces of fainting after donating blood is just psychosomatic.


I'm 6'2 230lbs and faint when I get 'stabbed' 3x in each arm. I'm a freak, what else can I say?

'Stabbed' is not really a harsh term. They poked me 3x in each arm and actually moved it around under the skin each time in an effort to locate the vein.

I have no doubt that some of it is psychosomatic. But I remember feeling it in the pit of my stomach that it was not 'right' when they were doing it. It was not like the previous donations.
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Postby cfitz on Thu Dec 30, 2004 10:15 pm

Spazmogen, you sound like my doppleganger when it comes to giving blood! :o

My experiences mirror yours almost exactly. As I mentioned, I've given blood a number of times. And I've also had my fair share of blood drawn for diagnostic tests. Most of these experiences have been tolerable, although not completely free of problems.

Apparently my viens are small and hard to puncture. The technicians almost always have to try multiple times before they succeed. On more than one occassion they have had to give up after multiple attempts on each arm and go fetch a more experienced, more skilled phlebotomist to finish the job.

Despite this, I usually didn't experience much distress, and once they succeeded I would happily watch in fascination as the blood flowed through the tube to be collected. Blood itself does not make me squeamish or queasy.

However, things were a bit worse the last few times I gave blood or had it drawn for a test. In particular, one time the plebotomist was just completely inept. Four times she tried my right arm, each time stabbing, missing, pushing in and out, jiggling back and forth, and literally digging around with the needle inside my arm beneath my skin. The digging is the worst part.

I withstood this with sufficient stoicism for a while, but eventually it got to be too much. After she switched to my left arm and failed two more times I started feeling strange. By the third failure on my left arm I was starting to get clammy, the blood was rushing in my ears, and I was starting to feel light-headed. I told her things weren't going well and that she really needed to get it right on her next try. As she dug around on her fourth try on the left arm (eighth try total) I really started to feel sick to my stomach, my head was getting really light, and I broke out in a cold sweat.

At this point I told her "Enough. You are done." She stopped and I had to sit for a while with my head down, put some towels soaked in ice water on my forehead, and sip some cold water. After 45 minutes or so I finally recovered enough to drive myself home.

I had to go to another clinic to get the job finished, and never went back to the first clinic.

That was the experience that really soured me on giving blood. It wasn't the only bad experience I had when giving, but it was definitely the worst. Yes, I survived it and could do so again, but it isn't an experience I wish to repeat.

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Postby Ian on Thu Dec 30, 2004 11:12 pm

I've never heard of anyone getting called and asked to donate blood. Very weird.

I donated once. No problems getting the needle in.. it just took forever for the blood to come out.
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Postby cfitz on Thu Dec 30, 2004 11:25 pm

Ian wrote:I've never heard of anyone getting called and asked to donate blood. Very weird.

If you are feeling left out, the next time they call me I will give them your number. :wink:

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Postby Ian on Thu Dec 30, 2004 11:54 pm

No, its bad enough with all the non-profit telemarketers. Sometimes I think they're worse than the ones asking if we wanted to buy windows or long distance.
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Postby MonteLDS on Fri Dec 31, 2004 1:10 am

i don't weight enough to give blood... oh well
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Postby cfitz on Fri Dec 31, 2004 2:13 am

Monte, start eating! I've seen from your various photos and movies that you are quite thin, but less than 110 pounds?!? :o That's too thin.

Try to do some moderate weight lifting to build muscle mass and eat good sized portions of a balanced diet. You don't have to go crazy with it, but a little will go a long way and you'll be healthier for it.

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P.S. How tall are you, and what is your actual weight?
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Postby dodecahedron on Fri Dec 31, 2004 2:14 am

Spazmogen wrote:
dodecahedron wrote:interesting...

i've always thought that it might be because i'm tall - 193cm = 6'3", and weigh around 85-90kg (200lb ?) so taking 1 unit of blood out of my body isn't a big drain on the resources. but i've no idea if this reasoning is true. i've read once that any queesyness, headaces of fainting after donating blood is just psychosomatic.


I'm 6'2 230lbs and faint when I get 'stabbed' 3x in each arm. I'm a freak, what else can I say?

'Stabbed' is not really a harsh term. They poked me 3x in each arm and actually moved it around under the skin each time in an effort to locate the vein.

I have no doubt that some of it is psychosomatic. But I remember feeling it in the pit of my stomach that it was not 'right' when they were doing it. It was not like the previous donations.

yeah, i figured you were heftier than me.

i remember, the first time i donated blood was when i was in boot camp. we were all "ordered to volunteer" to donate. there was one guy in my platoon who was fat, and the nurses had a hard time finding a vein, poking him a few times. i'm sure that was very unpleasant.

i agree that that doesn't "sound right" as you said.
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Postby dodecahedron on Fri Dec 31, 2004 2:18 am

i can promise you guys, any discomfort or pain you might have endured when trying to donate blood, is nothing compared to what one (me) feels when they're trying to draw blood (for blood tests) from your 3 days old child and not managing to get it right, and having to dig around to find it... :cry:
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Postby MediumRare on Fri Dec 31, 2004 4:14 am

I gave blood 3 or 4 times a year while I was at university in Saskatoon- no problems.

When I moved to Frankfurt, I found that they paid for blood and a lot of political groups were using blood "donations" as a revenue source. :roll: I got so cheesed off that I never gave again. There haven't been any big drives since, so I never felt bad about it. Maybe I should reconsider (I've got O+).

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Postby MonteLDS on Fri Dec 31, 2004 11:05 am

cfitz wrote:Monte, start eating!
P.S. How tall are you, and what is your actual weight?


i do eat.... when i remeber to
115 - 118LBs 5' 11"
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Postby cfitz on Fri Dec 31, 2004 3:15 pm

MonteLDS wrote:i do eat.... when i remeber to
115 - 118LBs 5' 11"

Okay then, let me rephrase that: Monte, start remembering!

There are some people who advocate severely caloric restricted diets in order to increase lifespan, based on studies of rats that live longer when kept in a state of semi-starvation. But on the whole I think it is best to have a moderate weight. Maybe your New Year's resolution (if you do that kind of thing) can be to eat a little more, excercise a little more, and gain some weight. For the rest of us, our resolution should likely be to eat a little less, excercise a little more, and lose some weight. #-o Oh well, at least we all have the "excercise a little more" part in common... :)

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Postby cfitz on Fri Dec 31, 2004 3:18 pm

MediumRare wrote:When I moved to Frankfurt, I found that they paid for blood and a lot of political groups were using blood "donations" as a revenue source. :roll:

That doesn't seem right. If everyone is upfront about what is going on and agrees with how the proceeds are being used, that is one thing. But to surreptitiously profit off of someone else's generosity is another thing altogether. I can understand how you would be angered.

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Postby cfitz on Fri Dec 31, 2004 3:19 pm

dodecahedron wrote:i can promise you guys, any discomfort or pain you might have endured when trying to donate blood, is nothing compared to what one (me) feels when they're trying to draw blood (for blood tests) from your 3 days old child and not managing to get it right, and having to dig around to find it... :cry:

That certainly is worse in the pyschic pain department. :(

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Postby MediumRare on Fri Dec 31, 2004 9:31 pm

cfitz wrote:If everyone is upfront about what is going on and agrees with how the proceeds are being used, that is one thing.

Sorry about the misunderstanding- that actually was the case. I'm a touch idealistic and just don't like the idea of paying for blood- it leads to abuse (not just with fringe political groups on campus).

dodecahedron- I feel for you and your son. :o

Many years ago, my brother (ca. 3 years old at the time) had some blood taken by similarly "gentle" hands and walked up to the next policeman with the complaint "the doctor stole my blood".

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