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I vant your blud!

By Wayne West,

I've been a database developer and administrator for over 25 years working with a variety of products in addition to our eponymous focus; the first version of SQL Server that I worked with was version 4 running on Lan Manager.  All that time, I've enjoyed reasonably good health; that is, until this year.  In February I found myself nursing a case of pneumonia.  In April, once again, I had pneumonia.  And again in May.  And once again, just for old time's sake, in June.

Extensive (and expensive) testing ultimately revealed that I have a condition called Hypogammaglobulinemia, also known as Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID).  It is characterized by the body not making enough immune globulin, a blood component which is important to the proper function of  the immune system.  One characteristic of its lack is recurrent infections, particularly lung infections.  I was diagnosed in June and began treatment in August.  Treatment is fairly simple: infuse immune globulin into the patient.  The infusion takes one of two forms: intravenous or subcutaneous infusion -- there is no pill for this one.  Neither one is much fun, but they give your body the stuff that is needed for your immune system to fight infection on its own: immune globulin.

So why, on a site that is dedicated to SQL Server and database, did I ask Steve to let me submit an editorial about a medical condition?  The reason is quite simple: this treatment requires blood donations.  LOTS of blood donations.  What is lots?  Portions of 1,000 blood donations are needed to make ONE treatment; intravenous regimen receives a treatment every 3-4 weeks, subcutaneous is weekly.  Those donations are not entirely committed to making this product; they're used to make lots of treatments for a wide variety of medical conditions.  The treatment is also quite expensive; without insurance, it can cost $9,000 a month out of pocket.  Fortunately I am insured through my wife.

I was a blood donor for over twenty years, but that's over; once a person starts receiving a blood product for the treatment of a medical condition, that person is no longer eligible to donate.  I would like to encourage you, if you're not currently a donor, to consider it.  Donations go so far in application beyond what is used in the visible treatments, such as emergency room trauma or surgery.  Hepatitis?  Treated with a  blood product.  RH factor mismatch between father and pregnant mother?  Treated with a blood product.  CVID?  Treated with a blood product.

At many science fiction conventions around the world they often have a Robert Heinlein Memorial Blood Drive.  Heinlein was one of the grand masters of science fiction who had blood problems; these drives were a way to encourage people to donate to help someone whom they knew of through his writings.  I always donated at such events when I could, and a few months ago I contacted the PASS organizers to see if perhaps a blood drive could be arranged at this year's conference.  Unfortunately it was too late in the planning stages and couldn't be done for 2009.  However, they recognize the value of blood donations and plan on doing it in the future.

So if you are a current blood donor, thank you very much.  I never expected to be receiving a blood product to keep me healthy, but as they say, life is what happens when you're making other plans.  If you've never given blood before, I would encourage you, if you can, to consider donating blood or plasma a shot.  You'd be helping a lot of people, including me!

For the location of a center or blood drive in the USA near you where you can donate blood, visit the Give Life web site (a part of the Red Cross) at http://www.givelife.org/ or United Blood Services at http://www.unitedbloodservices.org/.

For more information on CVID and other primary immune disorders, visit the Immune Deficiency Foundation at http://www.primaryimmune.org/.

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