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Donating blood, plasma, platelets

In my country, Australia, only three percent of people donate blood.

Consider that. Blood and blood products are in high demand by the Red Cross, they save many lives each year. Donating blood (or blood plasma, or blood platelets) takes only an hour or so, involves no pain, no expense to the person donating, very little inconvenience; and yet so few people have sufficient compassion for their fellows to actually do it.

I do need to acknowledge that some people can't donate blood for one reason or another, but most of us can.

This page was written 2019/03/04 – ©
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com (David K. Clarke)
 
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Donating blood plasma
Donating plasma
The plasma goes into the bag on the lower right. The bag at the upper right contains saline solution that is used to replace the volume of the plasma taken. See the main text for details.
There is not a lot of point in my trying to go into the details of what is done with blood and blood products following donation, these subjects have been very well covered elsewhere, such as Better Health, Victoria.

What might be useful is if I write about why I donate blood.

Our lives gain much more meaning if we contribute to the societies in which we live. In this world where our shared environment is suffering from things like climate change, ocean acidification and generally increasing pollution we all have a responsibility to make an effort to improve the situation. Activities motivated by selfishness are destroying our only planet, we need more altruism.

Donating blood plasma takes an hour or so of my time once in a while and allows me a little more self-respect because I'm doing someone else a favour, possibly even saving a life (I've been donating, mainly whole blood, for about 50 years, I'm up to 90 donations at the time of writing).

One of the other things I've been involved in for the good of the world and of future generations is trying to get action on climate change, including:

  • taking part in a 328km walk for solar thermal power in 2012 (see also Facebook);
  • doing a 750km walk in 2014 to carry a petition from Melbourne to the Australian Parliament in Canberra asking for action on climate change;
  • working at debunking the lies told about wind power, and giving the facts on wind power, from 2004 to the present;
  • and generally trying to raise awareness of the problems associated with climate change.
I was nearly killed in a car accident in November 2017. I did not lose any blood nor did I require any blood products, but the experience made me realise how any of us can die at any time as well as how, when things go wrong, we heavily rely on our health services.

Blood donation, as I see it, is another small thing I can do for the world in which I live and in which my grandchildren will have to live the rest of their lives.

The Dalai Lama, a man I greatly admire, often uses the word 'compassion' in his writings and he is right to do so; compassion is one of the great virtues. Donating blood is a way of showing your compassion for your fellow human beings.

The process

Donating whole blood

Giving whole blood is the simplest. The nurse will put a needle attached to a tube into you arm (you'll feel no more than a small prick) and you wait while a bag fills with the set amount of blood. I've donated whole blood most of my donating life.

Donating plasma

Giving blood plasma is a little more complicated, although the person donating doesn't have to concern himself with the details. The needle and tube is put into the arm, as with donating whole blood. The tube leads to a machine like the one in the photo.

The machine takes some blood, uses a centrifuge to separate the plasma from the remainder, which is then returned to your body via the same tube. This procedure is repeated about four times over a period of perhaps three quarters of an hour, all without the donating person having to concern himself with it. A couple of times during the procedure the machine will top you up with some saline solution, to make up for the volume of plasma taken out.

I've donated plasma for the last three years.


I have never donated platelets so cannot comment on the experience.

The result

At the end of a restful half hour (for a whole blood donation) to about an hour (for a plasma donation) the product can be used to help someone in need, perhaps even save someone's life.

The person who has done the donation gets a sticker put over the site of the needle prick and a bandage that should stay on for an hour or so. He/she is advised to have a drink and maybe a small snack (which is provided) and rest for ten minutes or so just in case there is a feeling of faintness.

I can honestly say that in the 90 donations I've made to the time of writing I've never had any adverse reaction at all.

It's a good feeling to know that you have done a stranger a favour; to have made a small act of altruism in a world that is being destroyed by selfishness.

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Related pages

On this site...

Ashamed to be Australian?; do something about it.

Compassion

Contribution to society

Ethics

Euthanasia, some thoughts

Science denial and climate change

Self or all?, selfishness or altruism?

To oppose wind power is to support fossil fuels, including especially, coal, a compassionate person would not do it.

Walking for climate change awareness: cleaning up the roadsides at the same time

Why I support the local wind farm and why any other compassionate person would do the same.

Why would you do that?; The big choices we have in our lives


External sites...

Better Health, Victoria, on blood donation.

The Australian Red Cross blood service has a Web page on blood donation.

Why Do Human Beings Do Good Things? The Puzzle of Altruism", by Steve Taylor; he suggested that the answer could be empathy.



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