BIT Studio

March 30, 2015

Bloodletting

Filed under: Composts — webmaster @ 1:17 pm

  Apherisis is a medical technology where the blood of a donor or patient is passed through a device that separates out one particular component and returns the remainder to circulation. For Canadian Blood Services, platelets and plasma are spun out of the whole-blood and the remaining components (red cells, white cells, etc.) are returned to the donor’s blood stream.

I completed my 131st blood donation this week. I started giving while in university and continued at 56 day intervals (with the occasional year off) for the next thirty years. Two years ago I switched from standard donations (whole-blood) to platelet donations (apherisis), which allow a 14 day interval between visits, that is, every 2 weeks instead of every 2 months. The platelets are used primarily for cancer patients to kickstart the creation of white blood cells in the marrow after chemotherapy has weakened the immune system.

It is a one-to-one contribution and sometimes the CBS staff lets you know where the donation is headed, for example, to Sunnybrook Hospital (no names, obviously). Knowing that your donation will be helping someone beat cancer, likely that very same day, makes the apherisis procedure extremely personal.

The term bloodletting conjures visions of 14th century torture and leeching procedures designed to drive out illnesses and evil spirits. But its roots are much less sinister and over the centuries it has been associated with curing a wide variety of ailments. An 1862 publication called The Salerne School contained a poem by Professor Liakat Ali Parapia touting its many benefits:

“Of bleeding many profits grow and great,
The spirits and sences are renew’d thereby,
Thogh these mend slowly by the strenghth of meate,
But these with wine restor’d are by-and-by;
By bleeding to the marrow commethe heate,
It maketh cleane your braine, releeves your eie,
It mends your appetite, restorathe sleepe,
Correcting humors that do waking keep:
All inward parts and sences also clearing,
It mends the voice, touch, smell, and taste, and hearing.”

So, in the olden days, with a little help from red meat and wine, bloodletting was known to fix problems associated with our brain, eyes, appetite, sleep, voice, touch, smell, taste and hearing.

People talk about the euphoria experienced after giving blood, and this goes beyond the feelings associated with doing a good deed. Is it the creation of new oxygen-rich blood? Is it the one-pound of weight loss lightening one’s step? I have experienced this many times although it did not happen during my two years of apherisis, possibly a result of the anti-coagulent mix in the returning blood. Regardless, my time spent doing apherisis was enjoyable and it was a pleasure working with the excellent CBS staff at the College/Bay location.

I look forward to my next euphoric adventure in whole-blood bloodletting. It’s in you to give.

Canadian Blood Services - It's in you to give.

 

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