Monday, February 16, 2009

Donating blood. And an owl. And other things.

Just had a lovely conversation with a Red Cross blood bank nurse. No, I can't give blood for another two and a half years until my treatment finishes, but those who can are encouraged to contact the Red Cross after about March 9 to make an appointment. They have good supplies at the moment, and are fully booked (last week they had 2,700 donations more than their usual target), but they will run out in a couple of weeks.

Last night we were with friends in Fitzroy. I looked out the open back door and saw an owl sitting on the fence, looking in at us. I guess it's possible it's a resident of the nearby Edinburgh gardens, but it's also just as likely it's one of the thousands of critters that have lost their homes. My friend's father is very ill, though, on the other side of the country, so we all had a thought for Don. I could see why an owl might be thought to be a harbinger.

One estimate says as many as one million animals might have died; that some species will now have moved higher up the list of endangered species. And one report said the fires produced as much carbon emission as the whole state of Victoria does in a year. And another that we may never know exactly how many people died: the fires were so devastatingly hot that sometimes all that's left is a person's wedding ring. And that a number of people lived in those hills precisely because they didn't want to be identified and known.

3 comments:

Pavlov's Cat said...

You're probably in a majority by now; these days the first stop at the blood bank involves filling in a four-page small-print form full of questions about sex, jail, earrings and other piercings, tatts, illicit drugs, prescription meds and travel history, and even if you get as far as the interviewing nurse who reads the form, you can still bomb out if the on-the-spot test shows your haemoglobin is too low, as mine often is. (Possibly also if your blood pressure is too low.)

My sister tells a story of being on a bus tour through Greece in the early 70s and having the whole busload of Australians give blood on the spot to help deal with some horrible accident that had just happened. I started giving blood when I was 18 and I remember that indeed the filters were almost nonexistent then, even in Australia. They started getting very jumpy in the 80s, when AIDS became an issue and after that CJD.

These days, as an unpregnant and seriously non-underweight woman between the ages of 18 (16?) and 70 with no relevant medical or sexual history, no tatts and and no sojourn in the UK at the wrong time, I'm one of the increasingly rare people whose blood they'll actually take, and even then I usually can't donate whole blood -- just blood for blood products, serum and the like -- because for whole blood you have to have been analgesic-free for the last 72 hours and the hereditary arthritis in the hands will no longer allow for that. One of the reasons the blood stocks are permanently low is that they've screened out so many people -- these days not least as protection against litigation.

Stephanie Trigg said...

Well, the low blood pressure thing did worry me a bit. I've only donated blood once - years ago — and felt so faint they said I should think seriously about whether I wanted to come back (I had to lie down and take up a bed for an hour). But becoming a medical subject has made me much more accustomed to needles and samples and such, so I hoped I would be ok.

I bet you're right about the litigation. And one of the reasons they give for not wanting cancer folk till after five years is that they don't want us to put ourselves at risk, too. (For the record, I'm fit as a fiddle at the moment.)

But good on you, PC, for giving blood so regularly.

Anonymous said...

I found this information interesting, and hugely scary too:

Melbourne University fire ecologist, Dr Kevin Tolhurst, told the Herald Sun the fires were so hot the energy they released could have supplied Victoria with electricity for at least two years. Up to 80,000 kilowatts per metre of heat was expelled as the fires raged on Saturday.

Dr Tolhurst said this equalled about 500 atomic bombs landing on Hiroshima.

Occasional reader