Tags: medical

assume a spherical cow, nerdy

very picky vampires

For those who weren't aware, my mother has leukemia. Again. She went through two bouts of leukemia in 2001 and 2004, the latter ending in a stem cell bone marrow transplant. The cancer stayed away until October of last year, when she ended up with leukemia again. This is a slightly different type than she's had before, and she's a bit more frail. However, things seem to be going well, and the doctor is mostly pleased.

That said, besides one week of chemo every four weeks, Mom occasionally needs to become a vampire. So I have to sit through a blood transfusion every week or two. So I've learned a lot about blood and blood transfusions. The common ones that we're used to are full blood/red blood cells. Mom gets a lot of those. And they look like bags of blood -- bright red viscous fluid. Those are also the familiar ones we all know in regards to blood type, where O- is the universal donor and AB+ is the universal recipient.

But then there's what we're doing today. The bag attached to Mom looks like it contains a very thick chicken broth and if you didn't know better, you'd not guess it was blood. It's platelets and plasma -- the clotting factor. The interesting thing about getting platelets and plasma is that the universal donor/recipient are reversed -- AB+ is the universal platelet/plasma donor, and O- is the universal recipient because the antibodies (the parts that interact with the antigens) are carried in the plasma. People with O blood have A and B antibodies in the plasma, and people with AB blood have none.

The short of it? Today Mom is being a very picky vampire and getting platelets/plasma. It's a slight change in the routine.

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