February 18, 2019 – Monday
Today, I drove about one and a half hours to Rockford. The destination was the Hope Fellowship Church of Rockford. Check out their website. There, Jan Eschen and I set up a donor table, among other providers such as the National Cancer Society. Like at the Lou Bachrodt AutoMall, the Church was hosting a blood drive and expected about 30-50 people.
Here’s just a few interesting facts about the blood in your body. Did you know:
- Blood itself consists of four components: red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Red blood cells delivers oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, white blood cells work to fight against infection, platelets help blood effectively clot, and plasma (which is about 55% of the blood itself) is a clear-substance consisting mainly of water which holds every component together
- People, varying by weight, on average have a pound of blood in their bodies.
- Blood contains small traces of gold.
- In a single pint of blood (the normal amount taken during a donation) contains 2.4 trillion red blood cells!
- Every single second, out body produces 17 million red blood cells.
- The idea that blood only turns red once it is exposed to oxygen is actually a myth. For all humans, blood is red – inside and outside of the body.
- Other animals have different colored blood. Crabs have blue blood and some worms have green blood!
- In a medical emergency, patients are often put on some type of blood-thinning pill to prevent clotting.
Throughout the evening, Jan and I stayed at our table and explained to people about the importance of organ and tissue donation as they walked by. When we weren’t talking to them, she taught me many facts, misconceptions, and the fundamentals about the organ donation process. I did come across one troubling thought during our conversation.
People who are in need of organs or tissue must wait on a registry, and they only rise to the top of the list, and thus have more opportunity to receive organs, as the urgency of their need rises. This however, pushes those who are not in dire need to the bottom. Those at the bottom of the list stay there until their conditions worsen. They, unfortunately, are forced to wait – forced to succumb to disease or whatever illness it may be, and they will not be recognized until the need for an organ becomes critical.
This however, is just a thought. Though it will be hard to fix this issue, for now the best thing to do is to have the people with urgent need to receive their organs first.
Update: With a conversation with Mrs. Boatman, the lady directing my internship with Organ & Tissue Donor program, I realized that the list isn’t at fault for the worsening conditions. This was an severe misconception that I had. The organ donor registry provides an effective and efficient solution to those who cannot find the life-saving organs that they need. The reason for those suffering to continue suffering, though this may seem obvious, is because there is a lack of donors. Organs are scarce because people simply aren’t willing to donate, causing an ever increasing urgent need for organs. On top of this, when organs are donated, there are so many factors that are put into consideration in order for there to be a match that makes it even more difficult for compatibility. This includes body size, blood type, urgency, distance of hospitals between donor and recipient, waiting time, and many others. Find out more here. People are not forced to wait, but rather, they must because there are no organs available. I hope you understand as much as I do now the importance of the registry, as without it, the sheer number of living organ recipients we have now wouldn’t be plausible.
As Connie Boatman puts it:
“We pay homage to the registry and to the donor families and their self-less contributions to our life-saving missions.”