Alternate title #1: "No Pain, No Gain"
Alternate title #2: "No Needles Draining Fluid From Your Corpse, No Extra Moolah"
Yes, it's true.
I just spent a couple hours at our local "plasma collection center." I got some reading done, did a little blogging, people-watched, and all of this while trying very hard to forget that jammed inside a vein in my right arm was a needle the size of a coffee stirrer.
If you've never donated (that's probably the wrong word since I got paid for my service) then boy, are you missing out.
Back in college it was relatively low-tech, what with the hammering of a spigot into my arm like I was a maple tree or something. But on my latest trip to see my friends at Biolife Plasma and Leech Center, I felt like I'd stepped onto the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.
I placed my finger over the glowing red sensor so it could scan my fingerprint and pull up my records. Even the thermometer/blood pressure/IQ sensors are all automated. Also, they no longer have a human asking all of those embarrassing questions about sexual activity and drug use and whether or not I'd received acupuncture in Ghana from a mad cow between the years of 630 bc and ad 1987; now it's a computer touch-screen, all fancy like the ones they have on the cash registers at McDonald's.
Unfortunately, they don't have the transporter developed yet with which to directly "beam" my plasma from my veins into the bottle. But it's pretty cool nonetheless. The blood gets sucked from my veins, spins around in a centrifuge, gets stripped of the precious liquid gold (plasma) and then pumps the red stuff right back into my arm. It does just a little at a time until it goes through enough cycles to fill a bottle a little larger than those big plastic jobs you see attached to the undercarriages of mountain bikes.
The real joy comes at the end when it's time for them to give me a free bag of saline to replace the fluid stolen from my body. Of course, the saline's been hanging on that hook at room temperature (which is approximately 50 degrees judging by my goosebumps and the lady in her parka across the way). So when the saline enters my body at well-below-normal-body-temperature, it feels like something has gone very, very wrong...or right, depending on whether or not you enjoy freezer burn coursing through your veins.
My favorite part comes at check-out. Once again I place my finger on the glowing red omniscient eye who knows me very well by now. It talks to the computer, and the two of them work it out somehow to deposit $20-$40 on my Plasma Debit Card, which I promptly blow on candy, comic books and baseball cards.
Naw, seriously, this is just a simple way for me to raise a little extra to save for when our family of six takes a mission trip to Mexico in June. The participants (us and several other families from all over) raise money to pay for the materials for the houses that we will build together, so we'll do some saving, do some jobs for others and accept donations from friends and family who'd like to be a part of building a home but can't actually go to Mexico with us.
So while I really don't enjoy getting poked with needles, it's a very small price to pay for seeing a family in a brand new house later this year. If you want to go with us, you don't necessarily have to sell body fluids. Kidneys fetch a decent price too.
Since writing this post, I have been encouraged to add a "button" in the sidebar for anyone who may be interested in giving, too (financially, not plasmotically). I'm not trying to solicit donors, but if you're like me, sometimes you just know when you've been called to give and all you need to know is where and how. If that describes you, you can click on the photo at the top of the sidebar (the two boys), and it will set you up safely and securely at PayPal. Thank you to those who are joining us in making it possible for more families to have decent shelter. God bless you.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Alternate title #1: "No Pain, No Gain"