Vampires at High Noon

The Fat Phone has rung incessantly since the new year began. Advertisers, pollsters, campaigners, complete unknowns — all seeking to sell something — an idea, a product, a service, a candidate. None of these callers wants to accept ‘No’ as the answer.

One recent call piqued my interest. When I picked up the phone, all I could hear was heavy breathing coming from the earpiece. “Ve vant your blood,” rasped the Vampire. “Ve are in critical need. Blood and platelets are in dangerously low supply. Vhen can you come?”

I’ll be honest, I’m a pushover for a sexy Vampire rasping on the phone. “Put me down for Friday, noon.”

The sun reached its zenith as I strolled into the local Vampire Donation Center. The Official Greeter met me at the door and signed me in. He pointed to his right to indicate that was where I was to go. I was pleased to see I was not alone. Other “victims” were awaiting their turns to step into a cubicle with a Vampire.

“Mr. Fat Man, step into Cubicle Six, please.”

The door to the cube creaked closed. There she sat — Ginger — my Personal Vampire. Vampire looked at me hungrily with her deep, dark, penetrating eye. Her skin was fine and wan as café au lait. Her lips were full and flushed crimson. Her voice was crisp with a slight Caribbean lilt. She wanted to know all about me. Then she wanted to taste test my blood for iron. I had plenty. Ginger placed her cool, clammy fingers on my wrist — my pulse skipped a beat. And then she slipped away like a wraith while I completed a lengthy questionnaire concerning my health.

Ginger drifted back in, just as I finished the last question. “Looks like you’re a match, today.”

She led me down a dark corridor to a room full of recliners connected to strange looking machines. The people stretched out on the recliners were connected to the machines by plastic tubes — one in each arm. Plastic sacks of blood hung from their wrists. A pouch on each machine slowly expanded as it filled with a yellowish substance that resembled snot — platelets, I learned later.

“You’ll be here a long while. Go pee, grab a movie, and meet me back here. Go!”

I selected an action packed film full of pirates, monsters, car chases and romance. I could feel my blood beginning to rush in anticipation of the excitement I was about to experience.

I laid myself down on the recliner. My Personal Vampire draped a blanket over my prone body — to keep me warm. I inserted the movie into the video player, donned headphones, and prepared to tune out the whole bloody affair. I was ready for the long haul.

My Vampire first pierced my left arm. My left arm is a tricky place for the Vampires to navigate — two veins cross each other at the exact location where the return tube is inserted (pierce the wrong one and down goes the donor, me). A plastic tube was then stretched across my abdomen and plugged into my right arm. Blood began to flow immediately, into a plastic collection sack. Blood samples were drawn for further analysis.

Blood was soon flowing from my right arm to my left, with a brief stop in the strange machine working next to me. This machine removed the platelets coming from the blood in my right arm and returned what remained of my blood to my left arm.

This blood separation process — apheresis — continued for about 2 hours. I was drained and exhausted. Ginger disconnected me and wrapped each of my puncture sites in red bandages.

I headed to the canteen in search of refreshment. I bypassed the cookies and pretzels and grabbed a bottle of water to go.

As I drove home, I felt good about what I had just done. Even though the Program diet I am currently following often leaves me feeling tired and hungry, I felt invigorated knowing that what I had just done will help save at least one life.

Yay, me! Hero!

In all seriousness, community blood supplies are critically low. Both whole blood and platelets are in great demand. Please, if you can, give blood or platelets. You can be proud knowing that you are saving a life by giving of yourself. I have been giving platelets for seven years. I have been privileged to learn that my platelets were a match on several occasions — those days I felt like a real hero. Be a hero, give so others may live! Checkout the American Red Cross to learn more about how and where to give in your community. Thank you.

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