Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Cost of Blood

The DeGowin Blood Center has a lovely fleece pullover sweater for you if you make four donations of whole blood or platelets between now and August 31, 2006. Normally I don’t care about such things, but it got me thinking. An Old Navy Fleece pullover runs $15 - $25, ramp parking is $2, the materials for blood collections must be around $50 (rubber gloves, linens, Iodine Scrub, blood bags and other stuff), time on a really cool machine that separates your blood and finally the cost of technician’s time adds up to a lot of cash. While being stuck with needles I asked the technician how much a unit of blood cost on the open market. “Well” he said, “When we buy blood, it is just red blood cells and it’s about $150 per unit.” A unit is a little less than a pint. A unit of whole blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. A unit of plasma from a single person is about $45. If treated with a solvent detergent the plasma (plasma-SD) can be as high as $125. The plasma can be stored frozen for up to one year.

So kitten, cats, sacks, wives…. A unit of Whole blood is worth about $300 in its’ raw state. One bag is spilt into three separate units of red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. The final products can be used to save lives, or end up in something as mundane as shampoo. (Just to freak you out: There are some interesting proteins floating around in your blood, one of them works great in protein-enriched shampoos. Just think you are washing your hair with blood. Creepy.)

You can donate whole blood about every 2 months, or 6 times a year. Plasma can be donated every 28 days or 12 times a year. You can donate platelets every 14 days or 24 times a year. If you just stick with whole blood, you can give up about $1800 dollars of blood in a year. Even if this is an act of contrition, Dang it I WANT THAT SWEATER! Beside January is National Volunteer Blood Donation Month!

Some Numbers for the bean counters:

Heart Rate: 80
Blood Pressure: 137/77
Red Blood Cell: 47% by Volume

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