Monday, September 24, 2007

Some People Will Do Anything For Free Cookies

First off, can I just say how amazed I am that this is a photo from my cheap ass phone. Remember when...never mind, it'll just date me even more than the Beard of Kilimanjaro you can see above.

That's me, of course, hooked up to a very creepy machine that sucks your blood out and either keeps it or spins it around until the creamy nougat flies off, which it keeps, pumping all the waste products back into your body. Seriously, I don't mind giving blood, but if you're going to take all the good parts, could I at least leave my crappy old byproduct blood behind? How about some plasma from 12 year-old Swedish gymnasts, is that asking too much?

This is like going to Jiffy Lube and getting an Oil Donation instead of an Oil Change. They would suck out your oil and spin it in a centrifuge until all the gunk and metal shards collect at the bottom. Then they skim the top for themselves and pump all the dregs back into your car! Outrageous.

But I guess folks do need it and it is true that there are free cookies. I've even been in the Blood Van (which I believe was one of Big Daddy Roth's inventions) and received free pizza and t-shirts. (The Blood Van is out there on the road, makin' it's own rules.)

If you've never done it before, I'd recommend just giving a pint of whole blood to start off. You're in, you're out and you can start bragging and feeling self righteous in under 20 minutes. After that, step up to platelet donation, which takes longer, but does involve being hooked up to a crazy machine with a lot of spinning pump heads and a fancy monitor, which is sort of a geek high, at least until you realize that all those tubes are filled with your precious bodily fluids.

An easier but more expensive way to trade good deeds now for bad deeds you've done or may do in the future (or, let's face it, are probably doing in basically the present tense) is to sign up to be a bone marrow donor. I just got my donor card in the mail and have already overcharged the karmic bejesus out of it. It costs $50 dollars for a kit. If you are doing this sort of thing to try and bring some moral/ethical balance to your life, at this point you need to weigh your History of Actions against the Cost of Partial Absolution. Those are fancy Conscience Economics 401 terms, I know, but you get my drift. For me, a bargain at twice the price, for others, yet another investment they may never see return. In any case, you do get like six swabs in the kit, with which to swab yourself for DNA! How cool is that? Talk about a geek high...

The really good part about this is it is no longer a painful procedure, I take it, to harvest your bone marrow. Or at least they knock you out now, or something like that. A smaller side benefit is that you will very likely, if called upon to do this, actually, really, no shit save somebody's life.

You do that when you give blood as well (it is singularly cool to be in an emergency room and see someone taking blood down the hall and be able to wonder if that's yours), but it's you and someone else and someone else. With this bone marrow thing, it's like giving someone a kidney, they will die if they don't have new marrow making new blood with a new immune system. (Or other reasons, I'm more interested than educated on this topic, but I know a few regular readers are educated and will chime in if I'm off base.)

I am watching this work on a friend of mine who has cancer, which is why I signed up in the first place. It's remarkable. THough she is still Ubersick, she just had her first clear PET scan in a few years and will probably be able to leave her house, start walking around the city and enjoying life in another couple months. All because some dude (she's not allowed to know who for a few years) swabbed his mouth with six different Q-tips and put them in an envelope.

BTW, if $$$ is a problem, they have ways of getting around that.

So, Heavy Karmic Burden or not, give it a shot, or if you can't (the list of "Do not donate if..." is crazy long) consider helping out with your local blood drive. It's really a lot easier than I thought it would be when I first started and at a quart low, it makes one a really cheap date...


  1. Thanks for the info on bone marrow donation.
    I have always been a blood donor at local drives - but the bone marrow donation is really amazing. Isn't this what giving to our fellow man is really all about?

    cheek swabs....who knew it could be so easy to find a match? cool.

  2. Don, the beard of Kilimanjaro looks good on you.

    Giving blood is something I particularly wish I could do - I am ineligible due to spending significant time in England which is on that "Do not donate if..." list. Lame, because I am fairly certain I do not have Mad Cow disease.

    The other reason I feel strongly is because I was given blood once - I had an unexpected transfusion during surgery a few years ago.

    When you consider how much doctors can do using drugs and/or surgical techniques -- isn't it still amazing that sometimes what can make the biggest difference can only come from another human?

    Enough of the deep thoughts for now, what kind of cookies did you have when it was over?

  3. Anonymous9:23 AM EDT

    Don, got to say you are doing a good thing, beard or no.
    I personally have never donated blood. I can't.
    The whole bone marrow, I never knew it was that easy either.
    Man, the things they come up with now a days.
    Imagine how easy things will be once my daughter reaches my age.

  4. Katie, good point, I was just discussing that with someone last night. One of the elements no major surgery can be done without can still only be made in the human body and harvested. (I just like to say "harvested" because it makes the whole thing sound more creepily Brave New World.)

  5. Thanks for that post, Don. I've always sort of vaguely assumed that, because I take meds to control seizures, that I wouldn't be a fit blood donor. Looks like I was wrong. I've already started looking up blood drives.

    (I giggled at the Kilimanjaro remark. Hee.)

  6. Anonymous10:57 AM EDT

    Facing major surgery due to another visit from the big C, I appreciate good souls, such as yourself, who have selflessly given so those of us who may(do) need blood have it readily available!

    LOVE your mustache and beard!!

  7. That photo is one of the reasons I have never cultivated facial hair- I've been at least partially-grey since I was in high school.

    Anyway, I cannot donate blood, because I have a vagal response and then they have to pick me up off the floor and stuff me in a cab and they don't think it's worth it.

    But I absolutely will check out the bone marrow info. I am thinking of buying it as a birthday present for myself this year. Excellent suggestion.

  8. Anonymous11:23 AM EDT

    first of all, je love the beard!

    if i were a man, i definately would grow one.

    and about blood transfusions, i would be dead without the one i had. freaky. i think i would be dead twice by now without modern medical intervention.

    and this makes me greatful but also unable now to give blood (because of when i had the transfusion, nowadays i think policies and screening processes have changed)

    so if you can, do give blood!! Another reason is to take the burden off of high school kids where most blood is being taken. (at least that;s what i was told recently by a blood mobile person). I guess the trend comes from the belief that high school kids are less involved in 'risky' behavior than college kids. faulty logic much? and though I certainly feel like we need to have a blood supply and because I realize that we have continual shortages-- it still feels wierd that we are relying on kids who can't even vote to do so...

    anyway to sum up: go beard! and give blood!

  9. It's part of the meaning of life. To give to others. If you can't donate blood, ect. there are other ways to give. Donating your time and any expertise can be just as important.

    Thanks Don, it takes a real man. Alot of people just don't bother. Thinking they don't have the time.
    I've had a blood donors card for decades and while in college I went to a plasma center twice a week. It took more time then giving blood but it paid for groceries and gas... which was essential while in school.
    Since everyone is commenting on your beard, I must say "ya your hot!" ;)

  10. I had a transfusion about a week ago so I would like to thank you for restocking the shelves, as it were. I applaud your bone marrow efforts, as well and I am glad to hear that they have found a way to make it less painful for the donor.

    You can now call yourself a weirded beardo.

  11. you are a good person. it helps the spirit to know that there are good people out there. thank you.