Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Oops and ouch

Yesterday was my second time donating plasma, so my friend got her $10. Now I am under no "but you promised" obligation to go :) However, they only gave me $20 and not the $25 I was expecting. I think I might end up writing a check to the Missionaries of Charity or something.

Since last time I gave plasma out of my left arm, this time I told them to prick my right arm. About five minutes into the process, however, the little machine that was drawing and separating the blood began to beep its consternation. The attending technician explained that the blood was leaking and not going back into my vein (when you donate plasma, you actually get all of your blood back, minus the stuff that they want). So they had to put a needle in my left arm again. Ouch.

I have to say that the entire plasma-donating experience has kind of creeped me out. Everything is very clean - white lab coats, sterilization; it's a very toe-the-medical-line place. It just seems so... Mechanized. They hook you up to an awful-looking, noise-making machine that draws out your bodily fluids, processes them, and then turns the material over to be used in manufacturing. The actual gears on the machine are only covered up with a transparent piece of plastic, so you can actually watch your blood flood into a little clear box; when it reaches a certain level and has been "processed," it starts to drip back into your veins. Even the job titles are weirdly industrialized. There's only one nurse on the premises; everyone else is a "technician."

More amusing are the numerous attempts to make the donors feel very altruistic about their activity. I saw a couple pamphlets that gave information about how to "Eating well while doing good," and another thanking visitors for "saving a life today!" In the waiting room there are posters about hemophilia patients. The sole part of the place that reminds people that they're only doing this to get paid is the cash register on one end of the counter.

Now, obviously, hemophiliacs need medicines. The plasma does benefit a lot of people. However, I looked it up and there's no state law that says you've got to be paid to donate. Chapter 3725 of the Ohio Revised Code, which is the law that deals with plasmapheresis centers, simply defines what the centers are and regulates their operations: They have to be certified, employ a nurse on the premises, make frequent reports to hthe Health Department, have people was their hands, etc. The only other statute I could find was 2108.11 which says that blood, hair, plasma, bone, and other donations are not to be legally defined as "sales."

My roommate made us both appointments to go back to the plasma place on Thursday, but I'm starting to feel a little sick, and you can't give when you're ill, anyway. I don't think I really want to do it again, unless I hear about a charity that is in dire need of the money.


  1. Isn't Thursday a little too soon to donate again, anyway? Couldn't you make yourself anemic if you donate too soon? I know that you're helping people (both with the plasma and the money) but you can't help anyone if you're ill.

  2. The thing with donating plasma is that you don't actually lose any blood. Plasma is just a component of blood. The machine takes the plasma out of the blood you've dripped and puts the plasma-less blood back into you. The body regenerates plasma every day - the soonest you can donate again after giving plasma is two days later.

    I don't want to do it all the time, though. It can't be healthy to put all that stress on the body. And I don't want my veins to get... Warn out. Ew, I sound like a drug user...