Last Thursday afternoon, I got a text message from a long time friend Joei V, if I can still donate my blood, I said Yes. The patient, a relative of her, was in Medical City in Ortigas, so I went there.
The last time I donated my blood was more than a year ago. I have tried donating twice between last year and this year, but I was rejected. In one case, I have sore mouth or "singaw". The patient, a cousin of my friend, was in serious or critical condition, she was at the ICU of St. Lukes QC for days. The second time, I tried donating blood to Joei herself, she has ovarian C and pregnant for her second child at the same time. Problem was that I came from a drinking party the night before. With delicate patients like her who will undergo surgery the next day, MMC's blood bank rejected my offer.
Unlike my previous blood donation, this time it will be an apheresis procedure. They will get only a particular platelet or blood cells and the rest of my blood will be returned back to my body. It's an efficient system but will be more time consuming compared to an ordinary blood donation. While the latter will take only about 15 minutes, apheresis will take about 2 hours or more.
Here is the machine that will separate the wanted platelet or blood cell and ordinary blood. In front of my inclined "bed" is a tv with cable.
The whole procedure actually took about four hours. First, they have to screen and test my blood to test for any impurity which might endanger the patient instead of helping him/her. It's more than an hour wait to get the result. The med tech guys at the blood bank said I could not eat anything "heavy", crackers was ideal, so Joei bought me skyflakes and water. I gobbled about 4 packs total :-)
Then when things were clear, no impurities (no HIV, no dengue, no malaria, etc.) in my blood, they set me up for the machine.
What I felt was when the machine was drawing blood from my arm, the cloth around my arm would inflate, I have to squeeze a small rubber ball to quicken the outflow of my blood. After sometime, the cloth will deflate, it's the process were the unneeded blood is returned back to my body while the needed platelet is deposited in a plastic container.
While waiting, I was able to watch BBC news update on the Olympics, then Bourne Supremacy on HBO, then motorcycle daredevil stunts on ESPN. Enough to entertain me as sleeping while undergoing apheresis is a big no-no.
That is why I advice my younger friends, they should not have tatoo in their body, because they will never know when they will be required to donate their blood, say a family member or a dear friend of them would suddenly have an emergency need for it, they cannot donate their blood even if they are super-fit and healthy, within 12 months that those needles and ink were piercing their skin. Healthcare is mainly personal responsibility, not government responsibility.
This is Medical City in Ortigas. It is a modern hospital, possibly comparable to the modern St. Lukes Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, and Asian Hospital.
I have a brief chat with the med tech guys at the blood transfusion section. They narrated that there is really a big supply gap in blood. They estimate that for every 10 bags of blood that they dispense, only about four bags come in from some donors. So they have to buy blood somewhere else for their patients. I commented that the location of Medical City is rather "far" from populous areas, unlike say, St. Lukes QC, MMC, and Asian Hospital.
Anyway, back to my main point: healthcare is mainly personal and parental or guardian responsibility, not government's. Preventive healthcare more than curative healthcare. Have a healthy lifestyle, one can drink occasionally like I do, but not too often. Drink lots of water, do not believe the soda companies and their heavy ads. Have lots of fruits, veggies, fish, non-fried food, etc. All the essential vitamins and nutrients we need are found there, no need to buy probably those vitamins and supplements that are heavily advertised.
And no need for drug price control and related policies by the government to intervene in the competition among innovator pharma, among generics pharma, among drugstores and pharmacies.
Oopppss, I nearly forgot to mention. Joei herself is undergoing chemotheraphy for her ovarian C. She is a brave lady. With two young kids, aged 3 years and 3 months old, I pray for her full recovery in her battle against big C. I told her that my elder brother, his wife and my sis in law, died of cancer too.
Tips in blood donation, December 23, 2010
Tips in blood donation, part 2, April 03, 2011