For the past few years, Sheena and I have been donating blood with Canadian Blood Services. I actually re-started my blood donations on September 11, 2001. I had a scheduled appointment in Cole Harbour, after having just decided to re-start my blood donations since a few in high school. Then a couple of hours before my donation, everything unfolded on TV as you well know. It kind of made that blood donation really memorable, as I had seen the throngs of people who showed up to donate blood as a result of the attacks in the US.
Anyway, since then — I donated whole blood, but then realized that there were other means of donating blood and blood products that tweaked my interest. I first started with plasma donations in Halifax. I realized the plasma process was neat pretty neat, because I could donate plasma every week and make it a regular and weekly event. (Whole blood donations can only be made every 56 days or so.) With plasma donations, your blood is taken from you — but also given back once the plasma is extracted. Kinda like an oil change of sorts. I still find the machines facinating. All in all, the whole process (registration, screening, donation) took about the same as a regular blood donation, so I was all set. After a while, I would move on to donating platelets, another type of blood product. This used a similar process to extract your platelets, however it’s a bit longer process in one sitting (1 1/2 hrs). As a result, I’d bring a book and read…or occasionally I’d be able to catch a few shows on the TV that was in the common donating room in Halifax.
After moving to Calgary, the bigger city brought some interesting perks to donating platelets. Because they have you in a stationary position for such a long time, they try to entertain you as best they can. Originally, last year, I’d go in for a donation and be able to pick out a movie and watch it on a common TV & VCR with cordless headphones. I thought that was pretty neat. Today however, after a three month absence, I noticed some big changes in the donating area. I was surprised to find Sony Location-Free TV stations set up at each platelets bed (donated by a local company), offering hi-speed internet, digital cable, dvd movies. Needless to say, my donation time was spent playing around with the device — which is mounted on a moveable arm near your bed. Strangely, I became hooked on the book-sized device — tossing my MacLeans magazine to the side only to watch picture in picture news while surfing the internet. I know I’ll head back to just play with the thing.
So, don’t mind this post — its a bit of a plug for donating blood. Try it out, its an easy way to volunteer your time for only an hour every couple of weeks. Speaking from experience, its pretty neat to see your blood marked for instant delivery to a patient in need. Heck, you might even find some cool technology to play with.