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Scatterbrain Saturday
Author: TriSec    Date: 04/19/2008 10:37:16

Good Morning!

By now you know...if it's a Saturday blog before 7am, your loyal TriSec is off to donate platelets. But I'll come back to that in a moment.

233 years ago at this very hour, not quite 5 miles from where I sit, a small band of rebels led by Captain Parker faced down the world's largest and most powerful superpower.

Of course, we all know this action as "The Shot Heard 'Round the World", and the story is always worth retelling. I'll let the eyewitness Sylvanus Wood tell us about it today.
"I, Sylvanus Wood, of Woburn, in the county of Middlesex, and commonwealth of Massachusetts, aged seventy-four years, do testify and say that on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, I was an inhabitant of Woburn, living with Deacon Obadiah Kendall; that about an hour before the break of day on said morning, I heard the Lexington bell ring, and fearing there was difficulty there, I immediately arose, took my gun and, with Robert Douglass, went in haste to Lexington, which was about three miles distant.

When I arrived there, I inquired of Captain Parker, the commander of the Lexington company, what was the news. Parker told me he did not know what to believe, for a man had come up about half an hour before and informed him that the British troops were not on the road. But while we were talking, a messenger came up and told the captain that the British troops were within half a mile. Parker immediately turned to his drummer, William Diman, and ordered him to beat to arms, which was done. Captain Parker then asked me if I would parade with his company. I told him I would. Parker then asked me if the young man with me would parade. I spoke to Douglass, and he said he would follow the captain and me.

By this time many of the company had gathered around the captain at the hearing of the drum, where we stood, which was about half way between the meetinghouse and Buckman's tavern. Parker says to his men, 'Every man of you, who is equipped, follow me; and those of you who are not equipped, go into the meeting-house and furnish yourselves from the magazine, and immediately join the company.' Parker led those of us who were equipped to the north end of Lexington Common, near the Bedford Road, and formed us in single file. I was stationed about in the centre of the company. While we were standing, I left my place and went from one end of the company to the other and counted every man who was paraded, and the whole number was thirty-eight, and no more.

Confrontation at Lexington Green
Just as I had finished and got back to my place, I perceived the British troops had arrived on the spot between the meeting-house and Bucknian's, near where Captain Parker stood when he first led off his men. The British troops immediately wheeled so as to cut off those who had gone into the meeting-house. The British troops approached us rapidly in platoons, with a general officer on horseback at their head. The officer came up to within about two rods of the centre of the company, where I stood, the first platoon being about three rods distant. They there halted. The officer then swung his sword, and said, 'Lay down your arms, you damned rebels, or you are all dead men. Fire!' Some guns were fired by the British at us from the first platoon, but no person was killed or hurt, being probably charged only with powder.

Just at this time, Captain Parker ordered every man to take care of himself. The company immediately dispersed; and while the company was dispersing and leaping over the wall, the second platoon of the British fired and killed some of our men. There was not a gun fired by anv of Captain Parker's company, within my knowledge. I was so situated that I must have known it, had any thing of the kind taken place before a total dispersion of our company. I have been intimately acquainted with the inhabitants of Lexington, and particularly with those of Captain Parker's company, and, with one exception, I have never heard any of them say or pretend that there was any firing at the British from Parker's company, or any individual in it until within a year or two. One member of the company told me, many years since, that, after Parker's company had dispersed, and he was at some distance, he gave them 'the guts of his gun.'"


Today, we remember the actions of those men....the official holiday in the Commonwealth is Monday morning, and there will be the annual re-enactment of the battle, the Boston Marathon, and the only morning start in the Major Leagues at Fenway Park....for it is PATRIOT'S DAY here....and we all know this is the *real* Patriot's day as opposed to that false 'holiday' pushed on us by the Bush "administration", right?

So....back to the blood. I've been donating platelets for about 7 years now. It's quick and easy, and far less of a shock to the system than donating whole blood (which is always needed, too!) If you haven't tried it...won't you give your local donor center a call and go in and get screened?

Of course, if there's the human body involved, government has to have it's hand in the pot. You're well aware that a certain subset is prevented from being blood donors, allegedly to keep the blood supply 'safe'. But do all those government regulations really do any good?
The common practice of storing blood for more than two weeks could be proving fatal for thousands of heart surgery patients, according to a major study. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio have found that patients who receive blood that is more than 14 days old are nearly two-thirds more likely to die than those who get newer blood. … Koch's team note that in the US the average age of transfused blood is more than two weeks - and that around half of all heart surgery patients receive blood transfusions.

The most common practice for planned procedures is for the patient to arrange to donate their own blood for use in his/her surgery. This autologous blood donation is obviously best for many reasons, though is not always possible. Friends or family can also dontate blood to be specifically reserved as well. So, blood donated by a stranger would, ideally, only be needed for an emergency. Even then, there are well proven techniques to capture the patient's own blood during surgery and reinfuse it. There are other possible answers available as well.

I was not able to find any other studies of this "old blood" problem, but it seems fairly reasonable to expect a time limit for viability of whole blood. If it won't be used right away, it should be converted to plasma which can be frozen and kept viable for a very long time. Current FDA regulations allow blood to be stored for up to 42 days, but nothing requires it to be kept that long, of course.

I have not been involved in any kind of surgery for more than 20 years, so I'm not aware of all the latest techniques or advances, but I do know that almost every kind of surgery has been modified and improved to vastly reduce the amount of whole blood and blood products used simply as a response to ongoing shortages of blood donors. In the absence of a free market, shortages are bound to continue and get worse. Given the constant shortages, it's hard to believe much of the supply ever gets that old to start with, but it could happen.

Free markets have long proven to be the best way to ensure a steady supply of a product AND the highest quality of product available to buyers; there is no reason for it not to work with blood in the same way it works with food, computers, and clothing. The problem is that blood is NOT available on a free market: not only are the processors and distributors not allowed to purchase blood from producers (as the common name "donor" tells us - people generally don't sell blood but "donate" it), but they are not allowed to sell the blood on an open market in which supply and demand set the price both for the raw product and for the processed materials.

In addition, all of the hysteria about diseases like HIV and hepatitis, the serious and very expensive testing required to screen donors, and all sorts of useless regulations that hamper the whole process tend to discourage even those who would gladly donate their blood. Currently, the donor rate is 5% or less of the population.

Any government-funded study like this requires careful review, in part because it IS a government study. Even so, I would have to know far more about the study to accept an assertion that use of "old blood" is killing so many people. It is highly unlikely that "old blood" is the deciding factor in most cases, let alone all of them.

Remember that correlation is not causation. Some number MORE of those who received the older blood died, but we can't forget that almost as many of those who got the fresher blood died too. Most in both groups LIVED, so the older blood didn't automatically harm anyone either.

The potential risk factors in major surgery are many, and there is no indication that this "study" included only autopsy results that determined the exact cause of death. So, at best, older blood may simply be ONE additional risk. Though the size of this study is good, it would be much more meaningful if thousands of hospitals in the country pooled their information and it was analyzed statistically by people who had no ax to grind.

This sounds too much like a scrap of fact that has been pumped up and wrapped in hype to make another horrible sounding thing to fear - to agitate for government to "do something"... think of the "Alar" scare, or the bird flu that was going to kill us all years ago. And this: "New measures are urgently needed, say the researchers," raises the red flag of even more "regulation" that will only increase the shortages and muddy the waters further.

If hospitals have identified this as a real problem, it seems a simple thing for them to take steps on their own to solve it; just stop using blood that old, work harder to get self and other donated blood, use other techniques. Prospective patients and concerned doctors need to ask the hard questions and satisfy themselves that the best methods and products are being used. That doesn't require government interventions or new "regulations," just personal responsibility and intelligent choices by those who will be affected. Which one would you trust?

I keep asking people to point out even one government "law" or regulation that actually guarantees them safety and makes personal involvement in wise choices unnecessary... I've never had a rational response.

And since it is Libertarian Saturday....we'll take a look at one candidate, a longtime favorite of mine and the source for the ever popular "Why aren't YOU a Libertarian" segment of this blog. That's right...Dr. Mary Ruwart is running for president! (and is it just me, or have an awful lot of doctors of every kind been running recently?) Her website is still developing, but we'll take a quick look at where she stands on the issues...

Commerce, not coercion, should be the touchstone of our foreign policy. The best way to prevent attack is to create as few enemies -- and as many trading partners -- as possible. The best way to repel an attack is to have our troops at home where they can readily defend our shores.


Studies show that the more the government spends, the worse the economy gets. Governments spend inefficiently, which means less money is available for investment and job creation. If we want to jump-start the economy, all we need do is slash wasteful government spending and turn to the more efficient private sector to provide the services we want.


Draconian licensing and regulation schemes have increased the cost, reduced the availability, and damaged the quality of health care in America. It's time to unleash the power of the market and usher in an era of access to quality health care for all.

So....I know that's a pretty busy blog for a spring weekend....but there's always something out there to keep things interesting. Be back in a bit!


And a very happy PATRIOT'S DAY to everyone!

18 comments (Latest Comment: 04/20/2008 03:02:06 by BobR)
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