Health First. Do you do it?

Winter is one of the worst times for blood donations. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service often has signs out calling for donors as blood stocks are low. Winter is one of the most difficult times for blood donations as a large part of the population are ill – coughs, colds, flu and chest infections are some of the reasons you may be turned away, unable to donate.

Since starting my plasma donations late last year, I’ve used them as my yardstick for my health – As the donations are every 2 weeks, I’ve worked on staying healthy from one donation to the next. I’ll admit this may sound kooky to others, it’s been working out very well for me. Now let me contrast this to the wellbeing of the ‘general’ population (yes, here comes some ‘generalisations’)

Many of the people I know are working like crazy and not really taking time for themselves. Weekends are filled with activities that keep them ‘busy’, never letting themselves relax and recover (which is an important part of staying healthy). Black-hole holidays and digital detox are becoming part of the choice for where to spend your ‘holiday’ time, as a way for you to disconnect from the belief that you have to be connected, available and busy all the time.

Health first.

For me, my health is the most important thing in my life. From this everything else has a chance to grow.

Love? check.

Happiness? check.

Ability to continue donating blood/plasma to help others? check.

Once your health is gone, what else is there? At what point do people begin to care about their health? I think many other people don’t care about their health because their focus is on other things – money, status, wealth, getting ahead of the neighbours. I’m pretty sure there are many who will agree with me, and some will be in denial.

Let me know your thoughts on why (if) you think people’s focus isn’t on their health.

Perspective is powerful

I had an appointment at 9:30am today to  donate clinical plasma – I arrived at 9am but did not leave until 12:00pm (the interview + donation generally take 90 mins). I’m in holiday mode so wasn’t fazed by it but one of the other donors (there to donate whole blood, which takes 5-10 mins vs. the 40-60 mins for plasma) was quite irate at how long things were taking and that she had an important meeting to attend.

One of my favourite nurses (he rides a motorcycle and is good for a chat about anything) came over to hook me up to the apheresis machine and was apologising for taking a while to get things happening this morning. He went on to explain that there’s a young boy who underwent a bone marrow transplant early this morning and in order to help with the operation, they had invited approx 10 regular donors to come in and donate this morning. He explained that even though the schedule was already packed for the day, squeezing in another 10 at that critical moment was essential. He went on to explain they were simply doing what they could to give this little boy the best possible chance at life. My day was impacted by this, but who am I to complain?

Somewhere out there in Sydney tonight, a family is hanging on to see whether or not their little boy has a chance at life. I wish that family all the strength, love and fortitude they will need to get through the next few hours/days. 

Perspective is powerful.
Put yourself in that family’s shoes tonight.
If you think like I do, any delay to the ‘normality’ of your life through an event such as this will have you asking questions about what’s really important in life.

In fact today I’ve been in quiet contemplation about all manner of people, families, sons, daughters and others who are suffering in one way or another tonight, I wish you all the best and hope you have what you need to get through. ♥☺♥

Blood…

For those that don’t know, I am very passionate about donating blood, simply because I know the benefits it provides and know that it’s a very small imposition on me to donate something which I have plenty to give. I recently received a medal for passing 50 donations (of whole blood – Apheresis donors can donate many more times per year) and recently made donation #57.

I believe that anyone who can donate blood, should donate blood.

However, I do understand there are many reasons why people don’t: some are medical, some are pathological. Consider the rise of cancers in the world today – more than a third of donated blood is used to help cancer patients. Do you know of anyone who has or has beaten cancer? I have heard many stories where people donate blood to help out a family member undergoing surgery, however your blood can also be used to help other people along the way. I like to look at people as I walk down the street and wonder if I’ve helped them in some small way. You can read the stories of many people who rely on blood donations, such as Georgio, Jai, Marnie or Sophia (in their own way these people have their own Inner Story)

Where does my donated blood go?

My Special Blood.
However, I have something special in my blood that I’d like to tell you about. I make regular donations 4 times a year like most others, but my blood is not used for transfusions. I am a member of the Red Panel cell donors, and in order to understand what this means, I refer you to an explanation from the Manager of the Red Cell Reference Laboratory:

The Panel is a project that has been in operation for over 20 years and continues with the support of special donors like Andrew. We currently provide three types of panels – Abtectcell II, Abtectcell III and the Phenocell A panel. Andrew is a part of the Phenocell A panel. The project involves the collection of donations which are sent to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in Melbourne, where they are bottled and packaged. The product is then sent to hospital laboratories all over Australia and used to identify irregular red cell antibodies found in pregnant women and in patients requiring transfusion. By identifying such antibodies, we are able to give a patient blood which is compatible for transfusion.
Donors are selected to join this program based on their extended red cell phenotype. The blood groups of all of the donors in this program need to complement each other, and together they must cover all the blood groups that can cause transfusion problems.

Andrew’s extended red cell phenotype is:Group O; cDe, C-, E-, CW-; K-, k+, Kp(a-b+); Fy(a-b+); Jk(a+b-); M+, N+, S+, s+; P1-; Le(a-b+); Lu(a-b+); Co(a+b-)

Andrew’s Rhesus phenotype is found in just 2% of the population. When combined with his antigen negative status of some of the other blood groups, this makes him an especially valuable member of our program.

Why am I telling you this? In some small way it makes me feel special to know my blood is used in a way to ensure other units of blood are compatible before donation. You could say with the special bits in it (in no way am I going to use the language from the above text as I am not an expert and don’t claim to be) my blood is an enabler – in a way, similar to my view on life – to be an enabler to help others achieve their goals.

Perhaps you have something special in your blood and don’t yet know it? Let me know if you have any questions about donating blood by leaving comments below! (Please Note: I am passionate about donating blood but am not affiliated with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service)