I posted last week about my Dad’s very own ribbon and glue, read-through-the-Bible program as a way to remember him on the one year anniversary of his death on May 27th (which was also Memorial Day this year). Two days later Mom and I celebrated what would have been my parent’s 56th wedding anniversary. I can speak for Mom here; having lunch out with Me on her anniversary is not the same as with Dad. Oh well. It has been an emotional time for us and it is not over yet since we are fast approaching what would have been Dad’s 79th birthday on the 17th of June as well as Father’s Day just one day before. So this post is about the other thing I do (am doing) to remember him.
My Pop died from complications from a large (think big grapefruit sized) non-cancerous carcinoid tumor (think octopus shaped big grapefruit) that was on, in and around his liver. He was treated for over two years with a non-radiation and non-chemotherapy biological treatment that was never supposed to be a cure for his “thing” but only as a way to slow the inoperable tumor’s growth. For a while it worked. However, when the treatment stopped working, the tumor raged larger and larger in Dad’s ever shrinking frame at an alarming rate of speed, and my father was eventually sent home from the hospital to die at home with the help of hospice. BUT, before he was given a week to live and sent home to die in peace he had received multiple, and I mean multiple, blood transfusions and intravenous jugs of platelets that made him feel better for a while. It was his saving grace in the battle with the tumor.
So, that brings me to what I do with great regularity to honor and remember my amazing Dad. I give blood to the Red Cross. I hope that you will too.
I have always given blood, from the earliest time that I could, which I believe was age 17, however I had never given platelets until this week. But after I saw, first hand, just how much, how often and how beneficial the platelets were that were given to my father, I now not only give blood regularly I also give platelets! I give whole blood at the local Red Cross mobile blood unit that regularly shows up at a nearby Shriner’s Lodge. And when I give whole blood, it takes about a half hour to 45 minutes of my time and the distance to the Lodge is just 9 miles from my home. Easy peasy. But when I give platelets, that is a whole different story. That process takes several hours to do and I have to drive 30 miles to the Red Cross Center that has the machinery for this procedure, so, for me, giving platelets takes all day. The supreme usefulness of platelets to those in need makes this time commitment inconsequential to me, but it might be a deal breaker for others who are considering giving platelets so I mention it.
The following information about giving platelets, also called ‘platelet apheresis’, is from the Red Cross website explaining what exactly Platelet donation is:
“During a platelet donation, a small portion of your blood (about 1/4 pint at a time), is drawn from your arm and passed through a sophisticated cell-separating machine. The machine collects the platelets and safely returns the remaining blood components, along with some saline, back to you (Note from Karen: returned into your other arm). After the donation you can resume your normal activities, avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous exercise that day. … A single platelet donation can provide enough platelets for a full therapeutic dose for a patient in need. In fact, some platelet donations yield enough platelets for two or three therapeutic doses. By contrast, it takes four to six whole blood donations to produce a single therapeutic dose.” platelets can be donated every 7 days and up to 24 platelet donations can be made in a year. Some platelet donations can generate two or three adult-sized platelet transfusion doses from one donation! Whereas donors of whole blood must wait at least eight weeks (56 days) between donations of whole blood and 16 weeks (112 days) between double red cell donations.”
Big segue here: Hold on! I’m a fan of the Red Cross as my blood donations can attest. And, I also own a collie dog.
Did you know that historically collies were used as war or mercy dogs by the Red Cross? As the following photos from Wikimedia Commons show:
Collies wore the red cross emblem while serving in war and peace time. A book found on google called The Medical Missionary by John Harvey Kellogg states the following on page 86 regarding the subject of Red Cross dogs, “Here the noble duty of the Red Cross dog comes in that there is no thicket too dense no ditch too deep to keep these keen scented quick sighted collies from finding the wounded man and once found they … do not leave him until help comes. The dogs are also taught to crouch beside the wounded man that he may open the bag and find the reviving flask. The little lantern securely fastened to the back strap enables the seekers to follow the dog on dark nights and it moreover conveys hope to the wounded when the friendly light appears. Mr Bungartz tells of remarkable work done by his dogs on nights so dark that the seeking party passed within five feet of the prostrate man on open ground and but for the collie would not have found him.”
I hope this ramble has encouraged you to consider giving blood and/or platelets. It really does help save lives. Visit the Red Cross website to find a donation location near you!