The Nanobots Are For Your

The Nanobots Are For Your Own Good

I managed to make an appointment to give blood today. Actually, all the blood banks seem to be full-ish, so I made an appointment to give platelets. Platelets are used in the treatment of burn victims and leukemia patients: apparently, it takes six donations’ worth of whole blood to make up one transfusion, but only one platelet donation. So I went into the blood center on 67th and 2nd with my co-worker Steve Farrell and spent two hours with tubes in both arms, hooked up to an apharesis machine.

The apharesis machine takes your blood out of one arm, strips out about 10% of your platelets, then puts it back in the other arm! EEEwwwww! It looks kind of like an elementary-school projector, except instead of film, the machine is threaded with dozens of tubes carrying your personal blood around a maze of spinning knobs. During the course of a donation, it processes about four liters of blood (according to Yahoo, about 70% of my total supply: cool!) Frankly, I couldn’t wait to go through the procedure so that I could write about it here — the whole thing has this kind of B-movie science fiction panache. Maybe they’ll introduce nanobots into the tubing, giving me super powers! Maybe I’ll come out with laser-beam eyeballs, or X-ray vision!

Well, I didn’t gain any freaky cyborg abilities, but I did get to pretend, sort of. I spent the whole time talking on my wireless Bluetooth headset, because both my arms were tied down and festooned with tubes. I even got to be on TV doing it; Reuters came in to shoot some footage on disaster volunteers, and filmed me talking away, green light on my microphone boom flashing, knobs on the steel-and-enamel machine spinning in opposite directions, tubes jerking as the flow reversed periodically. Right on!

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