Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Removing blood

If I shave too quickly around the back right corner of my jaw, I tend to nick a small raised mole there. This morning, I realized I had done it again, when I started fixing my hair and saw a fresh, sizable red spot on my dress shirt collar.

Some of you may already know this trick. I took off my shirt and poured hydrogen peroxide directly onto the stain, which removed almost all the blood. My own addition is a little OxiClean, made into paste with just a splash of water. That and gentle scrubbing with a fingernail brush removed the rest of the blood and saved one of my favorite shirts.

I learned about hydrogen peroxide removing blood some years ago when I was a regular platelet donor. One time, the apheresis technician stuck the needle in my arm vein, but improperly, and when she removed it, a little fountain of blood spurted up and left a stain on the sleeve of my white T-shirt. I assured her the T-shirt was disposable, but she quickly grabbed a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. With several applications, the blood was almost gone; the rest washed out in the laundry.

Giving blood is a wonderful thing, but check with your local blood bank if they need platelets more than whole blood. The process can take 90-120 minutes and is a little more uncomfortable: blood is continuously drawn from one arm, sent through a centrifuge that spins platelets to the bottom (so that they can be collected), then pumped back into the other arm (or the same arm). However, platelets are desperately needed by surgery patients, hemophiliacs and cancer patients, and you can give as often as every couple of weeks (once a week in emergencies, like when I was an HLA match for a patient).

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