By: Alex Keilty
If you can donate it, Mary Dorst has probably given it. Hair? Check! Blood? Check! An organ? Check!
Her latest donation was giving plasma at the Red Cross Blood Donation Center in Oakland, which is something she does about every six weeks. After donating Mary, 59, says, “Physically I feel fine and emotionally I feel good. I know my donation will help anyone with a need in the hospital.”
As a little girl in the early 1970’s Mary regularly accompanied her father when he donated blood. “I used to sit next to him while he donated. I especially liked the juice and cookies after,” she remembers.
Her first time donating her own blood was over 40 years ago at 17 years old and since then she has donated so many times, she has lost count, but it’s definitely over 100.
Mary knows her blood type is rare in the United States. She says, “I found out in 9th grade biology class my blood type was AB. That made me feel special.” AB plasma is often called “universal,” meaning that it can be given immediately to anyone regardless of their blood type.
In a plasma donation, blood is drawn from one arm and sent through a machine that separates the plasma - the liquid portion of the blood - from other blood components. The donor’s red blood cells and platelets are then safely and comfortably returned to the donor along with some saline. The process takes about 45 minutes, which Mary spends reading books, and then she is ready for the juice and cookies which are still provided to all blood donors.
In addition to donating whole blood, platelets and plasma over the years, Mary has donated her hair twice, growing it long enough to be cut off and given to a program that makes wigs for patients of all ages with hair loss.
And then in 2019 she was inspired to donate an organ when her friend’s husband needed a kidney. Although she wasn’t a direct match for him, she gave her kidney to a woman in Georgia, with whom she stays in touch, and her friend’s husband received his new kidney from a matched donor in Iowa.
While giving a bit of herself with every donation she does, she feels like her efforts are making a difference. She says, “I am putting good vibes out into the world.”
To learn more about how to get some of those good vibes, please visit redcrossblood.org