Sunday February 5, 2023
I have writer’s block. Sometimes, I break it by playing word association games. Let’s see what happens.
Valentine’s Day. Next Tuesday. Not much help. I quit fantasizing about a liaison with Jane Fonda long ago.
Valentine’s Day leads to hearts. A surgeon installed three stents in mine, 12 years ago. I remember thinking, “I should let my wife know I’m having heart surgery.” She didn’t learn about it until later that night.
“Heart” suggests blood. Ah, there’s a subject I can write about!
I give blood at the Canadian Blood Services clinic here in Kelowna every two weeks. Correction – I give plasma every two weeks. If I gave whole blood -- as I did for many years, until Canada’s tainted blood scandal forced rule changes that made anyone who had ever had malaria ineligible – my donations would have to be 56 days apart, to give my body time to replenish those donated blood cells.
But when I give plasma, they give me back my blood cells. All I need to replenish is fluids.
The plasma process
It’s a sophisticated process. A machine withdraws blood from my arm, separates my blood cells from the pale yellow plasma that carries those cells through my body, and then returns my blood cells to me.
The plasma goes to a lab to be separated into its valuable components.
Albumin helps to control fluid levels in my body. Fibrinogen helps blood clot after injuries.
The most important components of plasma, from my perspective, are three globulins; especially immunoglobulin, which contains antibodies to help people with weakened immune systems fend off infections.
It takes thousands of plasma donations to get enough immunoglobulin to treat one patient. And my wife received a transfusion of immunoglobulins every month for 12 years, for her leukemia.
I feel obligated to repay some of that investment in her.
But there’s a catch. Canadian Blood Services says it collects enough plasma to cover 100% of direct plasma transfusions. But donations cover only 15% of the plasma needed for “fractionating” – or refining – into the various medical products.
So Canadian Blood services has to buy the additional 85% of plasma from foreign sources.
To increase that plasma supply, Canadian Blood Services has now opened five dedicated plasma centres across Canada, including the one in Kelowna where I donate. Three more will open this year.
To be less dependent on outside sources, Canadian Blood Services also signed an agreement last September with Grifols, a Spanish-based commercial corporation.
Canadian plasma already goes to a Grifols plant in the U.S. to be processed, before being shipped back to Canada.
The agreement commits Grifols to increase our plasma supply to 50% of Canadian needs.
Grifols has a worldwide network of some 350 donation centres. It has opened its first Canadian centre in Winnipeg.
I gather that Grifols expects to collect more plasma by paying Canadians for their donations. A web search suggests payments might be $30 to $60 per donation.
Grifols will also, it seems, lower the restrictions on frequency of donations. Canadian Blood Services limits plasma donations to once a week. Grifols refers to twice a week.
Over a year, that could generate $3,000 to $6,000 extra income.
I have to admit, I don’t like it. That’s a personal bias – nothing in medical science suggests that paid donations are inferior to voluntary donations.
But the principle matters to me. I want a gift to be a gift, not a commercial transaction.
In a for-profit system, though, what alternative does a for-profit corporation have?
Until now, all Canadian donations have been voluntary. A local rep for Canadian Blood Services assured me they would continue to rely on voluntary donations.
I’m proud of Canadian donors! Some have given hundreds of times. Every one of those donations has saved someone’s life. No one – no one! -- gets an unnecessary blood or plasma transfusion.
At the same time, if Canadian Blood Services has to pay for the blood and plasma that Canadians don’t give voluntarily, then it’s already a commercial transaction, isn’t it? So why shouldn’t the collecting agency pay its donors too?
Still, it feels like sneaking for-profit medicare in by the back door – as Ontario premier Doug Ford seems to be doing, farming cases from overcrowded hospitals out to for-profit medical clinics, with public funds footing the bill.
There’s an obvious solution. Roll up your sleeves, Canadians! Give blood. Give plasma. If enough people donated, there would be no need to depend on a for-profit system.
Have a heart!
Copyright © 2023 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved.
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Mary-Margaret Boone writes as retired UCC clergy and former Financial Advisor. “I don't know if any of these roles have influenced my take on how marginalized people deal with the greater White majority,” she writes, but “I was totally upended when a friend objected to Black History month by saying why don't we have White History month. I responded basically as you did. White history has controlled the outcome and the stories since the invasion of Western European society to North America.
“Recently I heard a UCC minister say that she had heard complaints about why we don't have Settler Reconciliation and Understanding. I never had a chance to pursue what she meant by this. But again I was reminded of how White colonists have controlled and dictated how our country evolved.
I am sharing a story via pulpit supply this month. I grew up adjacent to the Six Nations Reserve along the Grand River. I knew how Joseph Brant was awarded 6 miles on either side of the Grand River from its source to its mouth for helping the British in the American Revolutionary War. By the time I was in high school that land base had greatly diminished. Racism was rampant in Brantford. I counted myself fortunate that someone from Six Nations took it upon themselves to bring me into their fold and teach me about their history.
“What I learned closer to home was that Joseph Brant brought black slaves with him on his journey to Ontario. The woman I knew as Rhoda was a descendant of those sexual relationships. She was Mohawk, Black, and never belonged to either world. She was ostracized from the dominant White world as well. She worked as a nanny and housekeeper for my grandparent's family. She looked after my Dad's family when they were young and she looked after me when my brother was born. She ended up living with my Aunt Norah until she died.
“As an adult I wish I could have delved into Rhoda's world more -- to see her worldview. When Aunt Norah died we found a wampum belt in her Safety Deposit Box and gave it back to the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford. I am sure it came from Rhoda's family. I hope to see it in its proper place someday.”
Duane Martin: In your article, you touched on your background in training novice CBC announcers and stated that ‘male or female is no longer an issue in broadcasting’ and ‘affirmative action worked.’
“It is quite obvious that the opposite is the case. Whenever I watch Canadian, American, or British news or current affairs programs, or listen to CBC radio, the majority of announcers and reporters are female.
“What is most perplexing and absurd, and confirms what I am saying, is that CBC won an award in 2018-19 as a ‘gender parity’ leader when they had 62% FEMALE-LED projects, where a majority of the key creative roles of producer, director, writer and show-runner were held by women. 62% female-led is anything BUT gender parity.
“Is it not time for affirmative action to ensure that there is gender parity/equality for males in the key creative roles of producer, director, writer and show-runner? Anything else would be hypocritical and make a sham of CBC's idea of gender parity.
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