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April 2, 2014 1:25 PM   Subscribe

How can I maximize my bodily donations?

It seems sad and wasteful to keep this fabulous body all to myself, so I want to donate as much of it as I can during my lifetime. I'm already donating whole blood as often as the Red Cross will allow (I have some serious ethical objections to the donation restrictions that the Red Cross has in place, but not enough to deny blood to people who need it). I'm planning on getting added to a bone marrow registry. I'm registered with the DMV to have my organs donated after I'm not using them anymore. So what’s next? Specifically:

1.) What more can I physically donate? Is there some badly-needed bodily resource that I haven't considered?
2.) Is there any way that I can donate blood more often? Like, could I donate platelets or something between whole blood donation? Or am I maxed out on giving blood?
3.) Is there any benefit to registering for bone marrow donation with more than one registry? Or can I just register once with one organization and consider the matter settled?

Thanks, hivemind!
posted by Parasite Unseen to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
You could grow out and then donate your hair.
posted by mmascolino at 1:29 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


This is awesome of you.

Kidneys and livers are a badly needed resource. Have you considered being a living donor? You can donate a kidney or part of your liver and have a long, healthy life. Organs from living donors have a higher success rate than cadaver donors. This could help people on the waiting list who have no family able to donate. (This will be me someday.)
posted by mochapickle at 1:32 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Is there any way that I can donate blood more often? Like, could I donate platelets or something between whole blood donation?

You can donate platelets and plasma way more than you can donate whole blood. I had a high school teacher who gave as often as he could, and as you can see, it was quite an achievement!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:33 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Brain donation takes some preplanning. Options include:

Parkinsons: http://www.pdf.org/parkinson_brain_donation
BU's Alz project: http://www.bu.edu/alzresearch/research/recruiting-studies/hope/brain/
Autism (note, Autism Speaks group): http://www.autismtissueprogram.org/site/c.nlKUL7MQIsG/b.5183797/k.AFD0/FAQ.htm
Stanford, narcolepsy: http://med.stanford.edu/psychiatry/narcolepsy/bdp.html

and more.

or, (maybe and) if you are close enough to Texas, donate your body to a deterioration study: http://www.txstate.edu/anthropology/facts/donations.html

Looks like wisconson has one too now but I can't get it to load: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/03/30/wis-body-farm-forensic-science-research/7096073/
posted by tilde at 1:34 PM on April 2


Have you thought about donating double red cells instead of whole blood? The requirements are slightly stricter, and the process takes longer. I am guessing that means there is more need for it, but not sure. Maybe someone else here knows.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:34 PM on April 2


Rather than donating blood, donate platelets, you can do it every two weeks. I did it for a year or so, then I got anemia and no one wants my blood products any more. :-(

Once you've donated everything after you've died, you can leave your body to a medical school (that's MY plan!) You'll be a cadaver, and people will learn from you, then they respectfully creamate you. I'm down.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:34 PM on April 2


You can sell your hair and donate the resulting cash anywhere you like.
posted by kmennie at 1:38 PM on April 2


I tried to donate double-red during my last donation, but my iron levels were too low (I only eat red meat a couple of times a week, and I'm not as good about getting leafy greens as I should be). Also, donating double-red doubles the amount of time before they'll let you donate again.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:55 PM on April 2


You can participate in medical research studies.
You can donate one kidney now.
posted by Sophont at 2:08 PM on April 2


Consider donating your whole body to a medical school to teach anatomy, if your organs are not usable for whatever reason. Most schools have a program in place. Learning anatomy from a cadaver is really a remarkable and humbling experience and most of the medical students I knew were deeply grateful to the donors who made it possible.

The professor in charge of the anatomy program was a really wonderful guy, and was registered to donate himself just so he could teach anatomy one last time, as he put it.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 2:22 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


Depending on your gender you can donate sperm or eggs, be a surrogate, or donate breast milk.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 2:31 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Have you thought about donating double red cells instead of whole blood?

DRC is basically donating WB twice at the same time. There is value in that for the blood bank in terms of managing cost but you don't end up giving a more needed product or even more products due to the FDA's cap on donations in a year.

Platelets are really, really needed though. Consider becoming an Apheresis donor. The process takes longer than donating whole blood, but the product is badly needed and they treat you like a hero at the Red Cross when you do an Apheresis donation. Disclosure, I work for the Red Cross. I am sure the other blood banks treat you great as well, I just can't speak to that.

Thank you for being awesome. My mother had several dozen blood transfusions in her last year and I am grateful to every donor who made that possible.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:37 PM on April 2


In terms of donating blood, it will depend on your blood type what components you can give. I'm guessing if they wanted double-reds from you then you're an O. Work on increasing your iron intake to pump up that hemoglobin! If you're a blood type that they want platelets or plasma from (usually A's and B's), you can do that pretty frequently - where I used to work/donate it was 2 weeks for platelets and 1 month for plasma.
posted by radioamy at 2:39 PM on April 2


Mrs. Advicepig just hosted an event with the Be the Match / National Marrow Donor Program and she learned that all the global registries partner, so there's no need to try to register multiple ways.
posted by advicepig at 2:54 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Yes, I'm O Positive, if that helps people determine how I can be of the most use.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 2:56 PM on April 2


It looks like UCLA has a body donation program that you can investigate further through their website.
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 3:43 PM on April 2


O+ you can do an apheresis red-cell/platelet combo donation. You might be able to give platelets in between.

However it's ultimately up to the apheresis tech, depending on the blood bank's SOPs and needs.
posted by radioamy at 3:44 PM on April 2


There's an organization called MedCure, which handles whole-body donation, and covers costs of body pick up, cremation, and return of remains. We used it for my mother, after she moved from the state where she had planned to donate. My sisters family also used the service. We got the cremains in a lovely box made of hand-made paper. The were very easy to deal with, but you do have to set it up in advance.
posted by dbmcd at 3:50 PM on April 2


There might be a facility near you that does fecal transplants.
posted by ApathyGirl at 5:19 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Probably not relevant to your blood type, but I used to be a baby panel donor back home in the UK -- I'm O neg and the Blood Transfusion Service asked me one day if they could screen my blood for other antibodies that are problematic for infant transfusions.

Although seriously you're already a hero. I wish I could donate blood in the US; I'm disqualified under the Red Cross's vCJD rules.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:45 PM on April 2


Depending on your gender you can donate sperm or eggs, be a surrogate, or donate breast milk.

Based on his profile, the OP is a man.
posted by John Cohen at 6:02 PM on April 2


Nthing the suggestion to donate platelets. If memory serves me correctly not every blood donor can do so (I can and do every month) and they're desperately needed.
posted by Gelatin at 3:25 AM on April 3


I would add, though, that although the rules have changed several times, right now my donating platelets makes me ineligible to donate blood. I used to be able to donate blood three days after platelets and vice versa, but currently the rules call for the same eight week wait no matter what, and the organization I use has made it clear they need my platelets more than whole blood. That's too bad, because it keeps me from participating in blood drives, but there you go.
posted by Gelatin at 3:27 AM on April 3


It's great that you signed up with the DMV as an organ donor, but you should have a conversation with family/loved ones to tell them about that. Your family may have a very small amount of time to sign off on your decision, and informing them in advance what your wishes are is crucial if you want those wishes carried out. It's a difficult conversation to have (inasmuch as it involves your unexpected, sudden death), but it's important nonetheless.

See, e.g.:
Even if you are a registered donor, it is essential that your family know your wishes. Your family may be asked to sign a consent form in order for your donation to occur. If you wish to learn how organ donation preferences are documented and honored where you live, contact your local organ procurement organization (OPO). The OPO can advise you of specific local procedures, such as joining donor registries that are available to residents in your area.

http://organdonor.gov/faqs.html
posted by j1950 at 5:03 AM on April 3


In various places in Canada there are large scale health studies -- The Ontario Health Study, BC Generations Project -- going on where they ask people to fill out questionnaires and do medical tests, including blood samples. It's not large scale donation, but it seems like it fits the general zeitgeist of what you want to contribute to, so you might want to research whether there's a similar study happening near you.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:29 PM on April 3


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