Sailing for Blood

Remember when giving blood was important because it was in short supply? Not any more, or at least not so much.

Kenny and Anna Marie Lamberth of Clever, Missouri talked about the world of blood while sailing on a warm afternoon near Williamsburg with their friends Joy and James Mathias. The men switched operating the helm in gusty winds that powered the boat to good speed. They had a lot of fun with the adventure of sailing, which is definitely something exciting on vacation.

Sailing for BloodKenny said, “I work at a blood collection center that serves 34 counties in Missouri, Arkansas and a few in Kansas. Anna Marie’s company makes equipment for processing blood, and we buy machines from them. Just one machine can cost us $60,000. We collect around 250 units a day, which is down from the past.”

Anna Marie explained, “Hospitals use less blood these days because surgery has become so advanced that they don’t need as much blood. Surgery is much more efficient. And since blood is only good for a day or two, they can’t store it.”

Sailing for BloodHow much is a pint worth? Kenny said, “I’m not sure exactly, but our cost is around $175 per unit to the hospital. I imagine they mark it up to the patient. We conduct up to 14 blood drives a day. People are inspired by events to volunteer their blood. After 9/11 people flooded blood banks all over the country to donate blood. But we didn’t need much blood. People [in the attacks] were either okay or dead.”

“When we conduct blood drives at high schools,” he added, “the students want to participate along with their friends. We have to be careful with a 98-lb. girl for whom a pint of blood is a lot since she only has eight pints to start with. She can easily pass out. But for someone like James here, he has around 14 pints.”

“If you’re going to write about blood,” Anna Marie said, “then you need to write about apheresis, the procedure of removing whole blood for future use of the platelets. We’ve got donors who participate every two weeks or 24 times a year.” Kenny added, “I was doing the paperwork on one donor who was from Springfield, which meant he had to drive 90 miles just to give blood. He had donated 475 times.”

Kenny’s operation is rigorous about patient safety. “We did a Bloodmobile at a company where I found out accidentally that the boss was giving everyone $5 to donate. That violates the Red Cross policy about compensation and we had throw all the donated blood out.” As for winos selling their blood, forget that.

Eventually we moved on to other subjects, including what kinds of fish are found in the York River and thereabouts. James remarked about techniques for frying fish without burning it, “We don’t cook it, we just scare it.”

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Sailing for Blood

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