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Sunday June 19, 2022
“The best laid plans o’ mice an’ men,” wrote poet Robbie Burns long ago, “gang aft agley.”
Canadian Blood Services and I laid plans for celebrating the one-year anniversary of opening the new Kelowma plasma clinic, this coming Wednesday, June 22. Alas, life had other plans. Things went agley.
I wanted to be the first plasma donor, when the clinic opened in 2021. My wife had been receiving plasma transfusions for 12 years, while she had chronic lymphatic leukemia (CLL). The plasma contained immune-globulin, antibodies distilled from about 1000 donors per transfusion, to supplement her weakened immune system.
I wanted to repay some of that debt, if I could.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: Canadian Blood services, plasma
Sunday July 4, 2021
I wanted to be the first person to donate blood plasma at the new Donor Centre in Orchard Park.
Over the 12 years that my wife Joan had leukemia, she received a plasma transfusion every month. She had no immune system left. So she needed what they called intravenous-immunoglobulin, IV-IG for short. It comes from blood plasma.
Plasma is the clear fluid left after a centrifuge filters out all the solid stuff circulating in your blood stream – red cells, white cells, platelets, etc.
In Joan’s case, she needed the antibodies that she couldn’t produce for herself. It can take 1,000 plasma donations to get the right mix of antibodies for particular needs.
Twelve years, at 12 transfusions a year, times 1,000 donors, meant that I owed a debt of gratitude to around 144,000 people for keeping my wife alive.
Tags: Canadian Blood services, plasma, blood donations
While I worked in Toronto, a group from our office made regular trips downtown to give blood.
On one of those trips, I saw a man I knew walking aimlessly along the street. “Don!” I called. “Come and join us. We’re going to give blood.”
I knew Don McCallum from his time as a minister in Newfoundland. I had visited him twice in Baie Verte; he had written articles for the magazine I edited, the United Church Observer. As we lay in adjoining tiltback chairs, filling our bags of blood, he told me that he had felt that he was in Toronto because he felt that God was calling him to move on.
He didn’t mention that he had been in Toronto for several weeks already. He hadn’t found a church that needed him. He was broke, despondent, and homeless. He had just 23 cents left in his pocket.
“I was about to give up,” he told me years later. “I thought I had nothing left to give. And then you showed me that I did still have something. I could give some of my blood to someone who needed it.”
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: blood, blood donors, Canadian Blood services, Dalai Lama, altruism