As I’ve often done in the past, I gave blood recently. Since I’ve lived in the Chicago area, I’ve always done so at LifeSource Blood Centers. This time, however I was introduced to a new device/method this time. As I’m RH Type A+ (being pretty common in the US), it was recommended that I donate ‘red cells’ instead of just whole blood.
Other than taking only a few extra minutes, here’s how it’s different….
After the usual bureaucratic process and paperwork involved in giving blood, they hook you up to a machine called ALYX that runs the process.
It may sound complex, but the process is really simple…
1. A unit of whole blood is taken from you.
2. The blood is then separated into plasma and red blood cells.
3. The plasma is mixed with ‘room temperature’ saline solution.
4. The plasma/saline is returned to your body. (room temperature seems a little ‘cold’ when it returns).
5. Steps 1-4 repeat several times.
6. Remaining ‘whole’ blood, and plasma is returned to your body.
My first experience doing this was a pleasure, the worst part of all being the ‘stick’ they did in my finger to test my hemoglobin, which hurt like hell even hours later!
Added benefits of this process…
1. You actually give ‘twice’ the blood you would if you just gave whole blood. As such, you only visit half as often (16 weeks vs. 8, I think!)
2. With the addition of ‘saline’ to your body, you are slightly more hydrated when you leave.
I recommend that you all “save a life” by giving blood!