Dragon Con hosts one of the coolest and, in my opinion, most important events of the summer: The Heinlein Society and Life South Blood Drive. A single donation can save as many as three lives and with Labor Day Weekend being one of the most deadly for motorists it's an urgent need. With upwards of 80,000 attendees, guests, vendors, and volunteers there's literally gallons of blood to be had and the crew from Life South is eagerly waiting.
So who can donate blood?
Literally anyone over the age of 18 (younger with parental consent) in relatively good health and carrying no communicable blood borne diseases. The process takes between 30 minutes to a full hour with questionnaire, blood screening, and the inevitable waiting in as well as the quick and mostly painless blood donating itself. It's definitely a bit surreal to sit in a room with dozens of people in costume being siphoned by professionals. And, as a token of their gratitude, the con offers a special t-shirt and other items to donors.
And, if you're types A+ or AB and you're willing to offer up some extra time, plasma from these two groups specifically are in high demand as they're universal plasma types.
Being A+, I gave some plasma this year. It took me a little over an hour to donate but it was pretty cool to see my blood being pumped through a machine and returned to me save for some light yellow bags of plasma being filled above it.
So what's the difference between giving blood and giving plasma?
A typical blood donation is primarily just the red blood cells that transport oxygen through the body. These donations are a critical part of any medical emergency requiring large amounts of blood. Plasma carries platelets and red blood cells through the blood stream and also carries enzymes and proteins like electrolytes. Plasma is critically needed for burn patients, organ transplants, and for people with certain blood disorders. Plasma can also be used to create a number of medicines.
Whether you choose to donate blood or plasma the important thing to keep in mind is that an hour of your time can literally save a life. So, as you're roaming the various halls and panels at Dragon Con be sure to drop in to the Hyatt and become a real hero for someone who may desperately need it.
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