Harvesting blood

I gave blood yesterday to the Puget Sound Blood Center


It’s great: they have an online reservation system and send a bloodmobile to Microsoft campus pretty frequently (about every 8 weeks: (that’s how often you are allowed to give blood) how about that!)


Pretty convenient… except when you don’t know your ice hockey schedule. Typically I don’t want to play a hockey game for several days after donating: we won our playoffs, but it’s hard to predict when the next game will be because it depends on the win/loss status of a future game.


Each bloodmobile has a computer and each frequent donor has a card with a bar code on it. I just hand them my card and they know my name, address, blood type, prior donation history, etc. I suspect that the application was written in FoxPro, but can’t be sure. It prints out several adhesive labels which are used to identify all the different articles associated with that particular donation: including the main pint of blood, the several extra vials used for various testing purposes, and the paperwork. No more relying on reading handwritten labels.


It’s amazing how much computers can help with organizing data. I sometimes try to imagine a computerless world. What would I be doing? Perhaps teaching mathematics? It’s hard to believe that less than 3% of Americans farm and grow enough food for everybody else and then some. 200 years ago, probably the majority of people had to grow their own food.


The PSBC personnel are very friendly, and seem quite competent. They wear white lab coats, poke you in the finger, stick a thermometer in your mouth, take your blood pressure and pulse, all the while threatening to poke you with a big needle:  enough to get some adrenaline flowing.


Typically they ask a zillion personal questions (have you ever blah blah needle/sex/Aftica/AIDS/England/mad cow/West Nile/ blah….since 1970 ? )


Then they ask me if I work out at the gym or something. My pulse was too low: if it’s below 50 you’re rejected unless you exercise a lot.


The pain involved is quite minor, and is outweighed by the feeling that perhaps I’ve helped save someone’s life.


I sure am glad there is such an organization as the PSBC in case I may need blood sometime.

Comments (3)
  1. Joy Tan says:

    Good stuff Calvin, I’ve been a blood donor for a few years now… doing my share.

    I hope to see in Sept. 29 devcon in Las Vegas, just got word that I will be going.

    Best regards to you and your growing family.


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