How Am I Unlike a Turnip?

Well, for starters, you can get blood from me.   In fact, I give the stuff away fairly often.

I’m a big proponent of donating blood.   Giving blood is a simple & very charitable gesture; a single pint of blood given by a donor can help to save the lives of as many as three people.   But Shelly Tucker over at This Eclectic Life reminded me of another great reason to give blood…

Before any blood is collected, you must first complete a brief medical history questionnaire.   It’s also at this time that a mini-physical is performed, during which your blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and your hematocrit (the number of red cells in your blood) level are checked to ensure that you’re a eligible candidate.   And of course, after your blood is drawn, it’s thoroughly screened for diseases.   During these pre- and post-donation steps, sometimes conditions you were previously unaware of, like high blood pressure, for example, can turn up.   In Shelly’s case, she was shocked to learn that her blood tested positive for Hepatitis C antibodies, though (thankfully!) negative for the virus itself.   While this is certainly not news she would’ve wanted to hear, she now knows to alert her doctor to keep a close watch out for liver damage during future checkups.

Similarly — although much less seriously — I was alerted to an unknown problem when I went to give blood earlier this year.   I was turned away because of a low red blood cell count that was revealed during the pre-donation mini-physical.   I promptly made an appointment with Dr. Perlman for a follow-up on this and the initial bloodwork indicated internal bleeding.   After a number of tests and visits with Dr. Perlman and my bariatric surgeon Dr. Davenport, I was able to breathe a deep sigh of relief — they determined that I’ve developed pernicious anemia, caused by serious vitamin B12 & iron deficiencies due to malabsorption.   This type of anemia is readily treatable; I’ve been on corrective supplements for over 2 months now and have since been able to donate blood again.

Please note:   Blood donation screening tests are not diagnostic and are no substitute for routine annual physicals!   For your own sake as well as that of potential recipients, please don’t use blood donation for the purpose of screening!   If you suspect that there’s a problem, please see your doctor first!

This isn’t necessarily easy for everyone, of course.   Giving blood can cause queasiness & cold sweats and just the needle-stick alone is quite difficult for some people to tolerate.   However, you can take comfort in knowing that giving blood not only helps others but may also benefit you as well.   In fact, it stimulates the generation of red blood cells and there’s some evidence that suggests that giving blood may lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

So, what’s your take on this?   Do you donate blood?

Blogathon ’07 Results

Jimmy Patterson at Blogathon 2007

A few days ago, I wrote about Jimmy Patterson’s Blogathon ’07 fundraising plans.   Well, by golly, not only did he go through with living atop a scissor jack 30 feet in the air for 24 hours, but in the process, he managed to raise the 2nd highest amount of all Blogathon ’07 participants!   Yup, even in spite of annoying technical difficulties (dang webcam!), looming storm clouds, drunks congregating at Whataburger at, and the sweltering West Texas heat, he toughed it out and raised $4,293 for Midland Fair Havens!   Awesome job, Jimmy!

At last tally, Blogathon 2007 has raised over $125k in pledges this weekend for a variety of worthwile charities.

Update:   In the interim since Jimmy’s descent from his lofty perch, donations have continued to pour in, bumping the new total up to $6,353.   Not only did he far exceed his $5k goal, but he’s claimed the top fund raiser slot for this year’s Blogathon!

Blogathon 2007 – Charity Gets a Lift

Blogathon 2007 logo

On July 28th, Blogathon 2007 kicks off across the blogosphere.   The annual grassroots fundraiser marathon founded by blogger Cat Connor has, since its inception, raised in excess of $225 thousand dollars for charitable organizations.

For his part in Blogathon ’07, Permian Basin blogger extraordinaire Jimmy Patterson will spend an entire 24-hours non-stop 30 feet in the air atop an industrial Genie scissor lift.   Yup, every 30 minutes, beginning Saturday at 8 a.m., Jimmy will write a blog entry.

Jimmy’s lofty goal (rimshot! is to raise $5,001 for Midland Fair Havens, a charitable organization which helps mothers & their children transition from bad relationships to a successful new start in life, addressing their educational, vocational, spiritual, & emotional needs in residential and non-residential settings.

If you’d like to make an online donation to Fair Havens on behalf of his efforts, you can sponser Jimmy for Blogathon 2007 or you can also drop by the Midland H-E-B parking lot (at the corner of Midkiff & Wadley) during the event to make a donation in person.   And be sure to check out Jimmy’s live webcast during the sleepless 24 hours at the Blogathon site.

A Starfish That Makes a Difference

Peppridge Farm Goldfish Starfish CrackersPepperidge Farm Goldfish-brand crackers, a National Leadership Sponsor of City Year, has announced a new "starfish" design Goldfish cracker, as part of the "Making a Difference for Kids" campaign.

The starfish is a symbol of hope in City Year’s effort to make the world a better place by reminding us that each of us has the power to make a difference:

The Starfish Story

A young girl was walking along a beach that was covered with thousands of starfish left dying in the sun by the receding tide.   Seeking to help, she picked up a starfish and tossed it back into the ocean.

A man, amused by her action, said to her, “Little girl, there are too many starfish.   You will never make a difference.”   Discouraged, she began to walk away.   Suddenly, she turned around, picked up another starfish, and tossed it as far as she could back into the sea.   Turning to the man, she smiled and said, “I made a difference to that one!”

The man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had said and done.   Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing the starfish back into the sea.   Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.

— Inspired by an adaptation of Loren Eisley’s "The Star Thrower."

Donate Blood

I’ve regularly donated whenever United Blood Services has held blood donation drives at Medical Center Hospital for several years now but I was anxious about donating blood after having had surgery. I finally decided to get back in the groove today.

blood donation logoToday the UBS staff employed a new-to-me technology called pheresis. During this process, whole blood is drawn and goes into a machine that separates the red blood cells (or platelets) from the other components in the whole blood. The remaining plasma is then returned to the donor. Since a unit of whole blood only contains about one tablespoon of platelets, the net result is that you can donate 16 times as much of the most vital blood component while actually losing less volume than you would during a traditional donation. Pheresis donation only takes about 10-15 minutes longer than the normal blood donation method and, aside from the initial needle sting, is just as painless. (Platelets are especially vital for patients undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems.)

Donating blood is, of course, a very charitable gesture and that’s certainly reason enough to do so. But what’s more, there’s some compelling evidence that donating blood helps, among other things, lower bad cholesterol and may play a part in preventing heart disease for the donor.

So, give blood—it’s good for your community and good for your health too!