Every employee at Pythian can use one workday per year to spend on activities to help the community. We call it a Pythian Volunteer Day. It’s up to the employee to decide what to use if for and when. This year I used my volunteer day to donate blood, and this post is a short story about my experience.
I started donating blood when I arrived in Australia in 2005. The office where I was working at the time was close to an Australian Red Cross blood donor center and one day, when I was coming back from lunch, I decided to go in and inquire about blood donation. I booked my first donation there on the spot and started donating; not as regularly as I wanted, but still every so often.
In 2009, due to changes in life and routine, I stopped donating. Quite a few times since then I thought about starting again but never did. Last month, when I saw a Facebook update by Austin Arrowsmith saying that he’d just donated blood, it was like someone shouting in my ear: “Slacker! You should do that too!” I hadn’t decided yet how to use my Pythian Volunteer Day, and this seemed like a great opportunity and a great cause. So I did it.
Human blood is a product always in high demand, and the lives of many people depend on donors. Currently in Australia, only 1 in 30 people donate blood and 1 in 3 will need blood in their lifetime; about 27000 donations are needed every week in Australia alone. The donated blood can help in a large number of cases, from accidents to cancer and other serious illnesses.
You can choose to donate whole blood (plasma + red cells), plasma, or platelets. Each one of these blood sub-products has a specific use and can help many people. When I started donating blood, I learned that in Australia my red cells cannot be used since I come from an area of incidence of Chagas disease (Brazil). If I donate whole blood, the blood is later centrifuged and only the plasma and platelets are used. All the red cells are discarded.
Since my red cells are dear to me, I decided to donate plasma instead. The process of donating plasma is a bit more involved and lengthier because the red cells need to be separated from the plasma and returned to the donor. However, on the plus side, plasma can be donated much more often than whole blood because the body needs less time to recover since it doesn’t lose the red cells. Whole blood donations can be done every 12 weeks, while plasma and platelets can be donated every 2-3 weeks.
And when you finish donating, you get free treats!! Milkshakes, hotdogs, muffins, biscuits, etc. All to make you feel well and come back often to donate more.
Roll up your sleeves and help. Every drop of blood counts!
Note about the picture: Since I haven’t donated blood for a long time, I needed to donate whole blood once before being allowed to donate plasma. That’s why the picture shows the whole blood unit.
Your Pythian Volunteer Day can be used towards any initiatives. Do you have any ideas? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear about your experience.
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