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“Dash Me” A Year in the Life of a Cajun Boy Working in Nigeria, West Africa!



I was working as a mechanic at Hyster Forklift in New Orleans, La. and a friend of my boss “Mr Pat Horn”came by to see him as he was on leave from working offshore (mainly) and onshore in Nigeria, West Africa. His name was “Deano Pablo Vincent Martini”. He was a character to say the least. He had a heavy Italian accent, was short and stocky and he came to the USA when his submarine was captured when it surfaced in the Gulf Of Mexico and was trying to buy fuel from a shrimp boat. Martini met his wife at Camp Plauche Prison when she came to write letters home regularly to Italy for him. He asked my boss “Pat” if he knew of anyone interested in going to work on a Derrick Barge #11 mostly offshore in Nigeria, West Africa.

I was single and in my early 20’so I said yes! The company that I worked for was called “Oceanic Contractors” on the door of the building located in downtown New Orleans, but the company name I signed up with was called “J Ray McDermott”. They are a hugh, perfectly run company worldwide. I had to go get an extensive physical locally, a series of painful shots for my new international medical record that went along with my passport. The nurse said: “take your weight off of this leg” my left, and she stuck a big needle in my rear, then she said “take your weight off the other leg”and she stuck it in my other cheek and gave me the other half! It was a “Gamma Globulin” shot. Man was I glad that was over! They also gave me some pills that I had to take everyday for a month before I left to prevent me from catching Malaria. I had to take a pill everyday when I was over there from a big pill canister located in the galley where we ate meals and we had to take them when we returned home for 3 weeks too.

It took about seven weeks to get the flight to Nigeria, they had a military coup and killed the leader of the nation over there. We flew to Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris, France first and I scheduled a two day layover to see the city. It was a fancy airport, they had these big tubes that shuttled people in several different directions. I went to the Meridian Hotel in Paris, at the front desk I found a cab driver that spoke a little English, and the lady at the desk told him a list of all the places that I wanted to see in French! We spent half a day driving around to see all of the sights, and I ended up at the Eiffel Tower. I chose to walk up all of the winding stairs to the big deck where you could see everything for miles around. It was great fun! The next day I was walking around a mall near the hotel and I got some real “French Fries” at a McDonalds! Later, I ran into a blond headed girl walking around the mall, her name was “Stephanie”, I started talking to her and she was a prostitute!! She took me to a little hotel with a French Maid that worked one of those exposed metal cage elevators that took us upstairs to our room. The room has these giant pink lips on the wall and a bed shaped like a heart. They had a B-day, and a toilet, we both washed up and you can imagine the rest.

The next day I caught the flight that took off for Nigeria, we had to land in Accra, Ghana, West Africa and wait until daylight to take off again and land in Nigeria. The airport was near Lagos, Nigeria. It was a mess, after getting off the plane everyone had to run for the Air Nigeria flight! Then, I got lucky and caught a Widgeon Airplane for McDermott that took off from land, then was going to land in the river near the yard in Warri, Nigeria. It had pontoons and it landed in the water at the Warri River at the J Ray McDermott yard. They took me to a hotel, it was shocking! They had a motel with a rack of skeleton keys for all of the rooms, they were all the same! The view out the window was a giant pile of trash in the center yard. When it got dark, all of the power in the area went out, I found out why they had a candle in a bottle in the room with matches! That night, I took the mattress off the bed and put it in the foyer against the door to the room and slept on it. Twice that night someone tried to steal all of my stuff in the room but I was sleeping on the mattress, they woke me up and I punched the door hard and they ran away. Glad the doors opened up to the inside!

The first time I went to the Derrick Barge (DB11), I got on a tug boat called the “Gulf Wind” with a captain named “Captain Wally Hebert”. It had just come over from the United States, and on the way to the Barge offshore near the country of Angola, (used to be called the Belgian Congo”. We got fired upon across the bow of the tug, and were stopped by a Russian gunboat, with a Cuban crew! They boarded the vessel and Captain Wally had a 22 caliber pistol and they took it and left. I was seasick as a dog, stayed in my bunk and could not wait to get off! I got on Derrick Barge 11 (DB11), it was a relief or so I thought, I had to go up and down 14 flights of stairs all day unloading the tools that were sent out on the tug. We were working 18 hrs a day and it was very hard. We finished laying the pipeline to the shore and we took off going north and then we heard that someone blew up the refinery! Working in these third world toilets anything can happen!

One day the Nationals (Local Workers) all got on the tug boat the Gulf Wind and they mutinied! They got tired of the Camp Boss (a Lebanese guy) serving them sacks of “Gary” (the food the locals eat) being full of Weevils. They commandeered the vessel back to the dock in Nigeria! They came back to work after it was straightened out days later. I remember going out with the tug boat “Gulf Wind” to pick up barges of the pipe we laid and having to bring a big 12 volt battery and tools with me in case I need them to start the anchor winch and get the anchor up. I rode on the front of the barge watching the Dolphins in the crystal clear blue water as they played as we moved along! Most of the barges had hydraulic starters though. Sometimes the batteries would be gone, yep, someone paddled all the way out there in their dugout to steal the batteries so that they could have lights in their village hut!

There was a medic on DB11, he had a small portable house up under the heliport. He had giant bottles of prescription drugs from overseas, England mostly. We used to get: “Cement pills” to plug you up and “Dynamite pills” to get you going again! The camp boss and the food was cheap and inferior! They had the hairs still on the slices of bacon! It was nothing like working offshore in the Gulf Of Mexico, they had great food there! A guy that I worked with “Jerry” was hooked on “Darvon” pain pills. He had hundreds of them! Anything that was wrong with you he would say: “You want some Darvon” he was always out of it.

We went back to the McDermott yard in Nigeria for 2 months to change the swing gear in the Gantry Crane from steam driven, to electric driven. There were several places where we used to go eat near Warri, one was a place that served delicious Escargot, I never thought that I would enjoy snails, but they were truly delicious! Another time, we were coming back to the yard and they had a big gathering of people all walking to this place where they executed people. The policeman said: “You’ve never seen an Execution?” We said no and he took out his billy club and beat all of the people out of the way and took us right up front to watch! He said no pictures and we went along with that. They shot a man and a woman that they tied to two big poles with the Warri river in the background. They shot them both at the same time. One of them stole a watch, and the other 8 Naira (8 Naira was about 12 dollars at the time). Capital punishment is the name of the game. It was unreal. I used to say:”Today another dollar, Tonight another Naira”. Another time I was in a cab coming back to the yard at night, it was stopped by the police (they wear camouflage clothes with AR15’s) I was arrested for murdering a guy at the beach. I had $112.00 on me and that was what it cost me to get out of it! If a cab driver got in a wreck, the police would take him out of the car an beat him right there on the spot! These are the most crooked people I have ever seen!

Another time, I went in a local bar with other engineers and when we sat down there were instantly 4-5 girls on us all with different colored wigs, blonds, redheads etc. They were all grabbing our pants and trying to get us to go with them to a Hotel! Unreal! There was a whore house located right outside of the McDermott gate, it was called “The Block House” It was always open to visitors and there were plenty of girls there.

I went for a truck ride to this magnificent place to go swimming. There was me, a rigger and a welder. We cut up and split a fresh pineapple on the ride there. All the while I was singing to myself:”Oops there goes another rubber tree plant”! We were driving through rubber tree plantations! The river was a spring that flowed fresh water that you could drink right out of the ground and it flowed into a muddy river somewhere. We met the Chief who owned the land when we were there, a real nice guy, I took his picture and I took several pictures of the place and some young locals paddled by in a small dugout. I have a picture of me paddling the small dugout with a piece of wood for a paddle in the crystal clear spring water!

When I was leaving Nigeria the first time, there are guys at the airport where they take your luggage away to the plane and the guy in my line says: “Dash Me, Dash Me” it means they wanted a Naira tip or you would never see your luggage again! They say “Dash Me” everywhere in Nigeria. Hense the name of this story. After about 6 months I had to come home for a week and get my impacted wisdom teeth removed, I did it in the dentist chair and man, was I glad when it was done! When we were flying back overseas I made a listening device from a pen and a funnel shaped piece of paper so that I could listen to the movies they were playing so that I did not have to pay for the headphones. I just raised the armrest up! When the jet landed an elderly Cajun Boat Captain sitting next to me said: “Hold on there cuz, the shit is hitting the fan”! The jet blew out a tire when we were landing and the pieces of tire were flying up near the window! The pilot leaned the plane over and we landed OK!

I caught the McDermott Widgeon in Lagos “The Capital Of Nigeria” to fly to an airstrip in the middle of nowhere, he dropped me off and said I will be back in a couple of hours, he had to refuel the plane and do a couple of other things at the McDermott yard in Warri, He never came back! I found out and saw the wrecked plane later, when landing the plane in the Warri River he forgot to pump up the landing wheels that were down and when the plane landed it instantly flipped over, crashed and sunk! No one was killed! Thank God, he got banged up real bad. The plane was ruined, he left me out in the bush, all I had to spend the night with was a sheet, a local had brought it to me, that was it. I fell asleep that night and when I woke up the sheet had moved off my face, I was under it when I went to sleep. My face was covered with all sorts of bites and whelps, from mosquitoes mostly, and I know that is when I got Malaria!!!!! It never got to me until after I came home for good, (more on that later) the next day a British “Bristow”chopper had picked me up to fly me offshore to a heliport near DB11 where a boat could pick me up and take me to the Derrick Barge. When the Chopper took off the tail rotor few off and the Chopper made a slow descending spiral into the Atlantic Ocean!!!! The pilot got out OK, the Big Gantry Crane on DB11 picked up the very wet Chopper and put it on the heliport for later repairs I guess??

After I finished my one year contract, I flew to Brussels, in Belgium to pick up my bonus check on the way home. An interesting town! After I got home I fell in love with a local girl and we were on Lakeshore Drive at night in New Orleans and we were making out in my car and that is when I got these terrible chills, I was freezing and shaking, then I would get red hot, sweating profusely and I knew I had Malaria!!! It is not fun. They put me in Mercy Hospital and they brought me 4 pills to take ever 2 hours in a small white cup and I gave them the bottle of pills when I checked in! Someone at the Hospital called a lawyer and told them about me I guess, because a lawyer called me while I was sitting in the Hospital bed! We sued McDermott under the “Jones” Act. They gave me back the bottle of pills when I left the Hospital.

This entire story is True, and this 1 year contract with J Ray McDermott was the most event filled, exciting trip I have ever been on! I really did enjoy it immensely!!!

Robert P Bertaut Sr.



Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging In Medical Therapy



Digital technology now makes Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging available to all. There now is a completely safe test that can aid in diagnosis, treatment and monitoring with absolutely no risk or radiation exposure.

DITI, or digital infrared thermal imaging, is a noninvasive diagnostic test that allows a health practitioner to see and measure changes in skin surface temperature. An infrared scanning camera translates infrared radiation emitted from the skin surface and records them on a color monitor. This visual image graphically maps the body temperature and is referred to as a thermogram. The spectrum of colors indicates an increase or decrease in the amount of infrared radiation being emitted from the body surface. In healthy people, there is a symmetrical skin pattern which is consistent and reproducible for any individual.

DITI is highly sensitive and can therefore be used clinically to detect disease in the vascular, muscular, neural and skeletal systems. Medical DITI has been used extensively in human medicine in the United States, Europe and Asia for the past 20 years. Until now, bulky equipment has hindered its diagnostic and economic feasibility. Now, PC-based infrared technology designed specifically for clinical application has changed all this.

Clinical uses for DITI include, defining the extent of a lesion of which a diagnosis has previously been made (for example, vascular disease); localizing an abnormal area not previously identified, so further diagnostic tests can be performed (as in Irritable Bowel Syndrome); detecting early lesions before they are clinically evident (as in breast cancer or other breast diseases); and monitoring the healing process before a patient returns to work or training (as in workman’s compensation claims).

Medical DITI is filling the gap in clinical diagnosis; X-ray, Computed Tomography, Ultrasound and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), are tests of anatomy or structure. DITI is unique in its capability to show physiological or functional changes and metabolic processes. It has also proven to be a very useful complementary procedure to other diagnostic procedures.

Unlike most diagnostic modalities DITI is non invasive. It is a very sensitive and reliable means of graphically mapping and displaying skin surface temperature. With DITI you can diagnosis, evaluate, monitor and document a large number of injuries and conditions, including soft tissue injuries and sensory/autonomic nerve fiber dysfunction. Medical DITI can offer considerable financial savings by avoiding the need for more expensive investigation for many patients. Medical DITI can graphically display the biased feeling of pain by accurately displaying the changes in skin surface temperature. Disease states commonly associated with pain include Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD, Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid arthritis.

Medical DITI can show a combined effect of the autonomic nervous system and the vascular system, down to capillary dysfunctions. The effects of these changes reveal an asymmetry in temperature distribution on the surface of the body. DITI is a monitor of thermal abnormalities present in a number of diseases and physical injuries. It is used as an aid for diagnosis and prognosis, as well as therapy follow up and rehabilitation monitoring, within clinical fields that include rheumatology, neurology, physiotherapy, sports medicine, oncology, pediatrics, orthopedics and many others.

Results obtained with medical DITI systems are totally objective and show excellent correlation with other diagnostic tests.

Thermographic screening is not covered by most insurance companies but is surprisingly affordable for most people. For more information or to find a certified clinic in your area, go to [].

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Hooray for the Federal Rules of Evidence!



The Federal Rules of Evidence used in the United States federal courts and adopted by many states and the military are codification of many years of common law evidence rules. The development of the modern rules of evidence has been a process of nothing more than putting old wine into new bottles. If one can understand common law notions of evidence the Federal Rules will be easy to understand.

The purpose of the Federal Rules of Evidence is to secure fairness in administration of trials; eliminate unjustifiable expense and delay; and to promote the growth and development of the law of evidence in order that truth may be ascertained and proceedings justly determined. As a former trial lawyer and current law school professor who teaches the rules of evidence to students, I view the Federal Rules of Evidence, adopted by Congress in 1975 as a master work of putting the old common law wine into a new bottle. I have used the Federal Rules of Evidence throughout my career.

This article is not about any specific common law rule or rules that may have been put into the new bottle known as the Federal Rule of Evidence. Instead, I write this to show how influential and widespread has been the use of the rules. Forty-four states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the military have all adopted all or parts of the Federal Rules for use in their court systems. This is a very good trend because the evidence rules of most states will be roughly the same throughout the United States.

The following paragraphs provide fundamental information about the jurisdictions that have adopted evidence rules patterned on the Federal Rules. They include information concerning the date on which the local rules became effective and when amended, if at all:

ALABAMA. Adopted by the Alabama Supreme Court effective January 1, 1996. No amendments.

ALASKA. Adopted by the Alaska Supreme Court effective August 1, 1979. Last amended October 15, 2003.

ARIZONA. Adopted by the Arizona Supreme Court effective September 1, 1977. Last amended June 1, 2004.

ARKANSAS. Adopted by the Arkansas Supreme Court effective October 13, 1986. Latest amendment on January 22, 1998.

COLORADO. Adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court Effective January 1, 1980. Latest amendment July 1, 2002.

CONNECTICUT. Adopted by the judges of the Connecticut Superior Court effective January 1, 2000. No amendments.

DELAWARE. Adopted by the Delaware Supreme Court effective February 1, 1980. Latest amendment December 10, 2001.

FLORIDA. The Florida Evidence Code was enacted by the Florida Legislature effective July 1, 1979. Latest amendment July 1, 2003.

GEORGIA. Governor Nathan Deal signed a House bill which made the Georgia rules effective January 1, 2013. No amendments.

GUAM. Adopted by the Guam Judicial Council effective November 16, 1979. Latest amendment July 18, 2003.

HAWAII. Enacted by the Hawaii Legislature effective January 1, 1981. No amendments.

IDAHO. Adopted by the Idaho Supreme Court effective July 1, 1985. No amendments.

ILLINOIS. Adopted by the Illinois Supreme Court effective January 1, 2011. No amendments.

INDIANA. Adopted by the Indiana Supreme Court effective January 1, 1994. Latest amendment January 1, 2004.

IOWA. Adopted by the Iowa Supreme Court effective July 1, 1983. Latest amendment February 15, 2002.

KENTUCKY. Enacted by the Kentucky Legislature effective July 1, 1992. Latest amendment July 1, 2003.

LOUISIANA. Enacted by the Louisiana Legislature effective January 1, 1989. Latest amendment August 15, 2003.

MAINE. Adopted by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court effective February 2, 1976. Latest amendment July 1, 2002.

MARYLAND. Adopted by the Maryland Court of Appeals effective July 1, 1994. Latest amendment January 1, 2004.

MICHIGAN. Adopted by the Michigan Supreme Court effective March 1, 1978. Latest amendment January 1, 2004.

MINNESOTA. Adopted by the Minnesota Supreme Court effective April 1, 1977. Latest amendment January 1, 1990.

MISSISSIPPI. Adopted by the Mississippi Supreme Court effective January 1, 1986. Latest amendment May 27, 2004.

MONTANA. Adopted by the Montana Supreme Court effective July 1, 1977. Latest amendment October 18, 1990.

NEBRASKA. Enacted by the Nebraska Legislature effective December 31, 1975. Latest amendment July 13, 2000.

NEVADA. Enacted by the Nevada Legislature effective July 1, 2004. No amendments.

NEW HAMPSHIRE. Adopted by the New Hampshire Supreme Court effective July 1, 1985. Latest amendment January 1, 2003.

NEW JERSEY. Adopted by the New Jersey Supreme Court and the New Jersey Legislature through a joint procedure effective July 1, 1993. Latest amendment July 1, 1993.

NEW MEXICO. Adopted by the New Mexico Supreme Court effective July 1, 1973. The latest amendment became effective February 1, 2003.

NORTH CAROLINA. Enacted by the North Carolina Legislature effective July 1, 1984. Latest amendment October 1, 2003.

NORTH DAKOTA. Adopted by the North Dakota Supreme Court effective February 15, 1977. Latest amendment March 1, 2001.

OHIO. Adopted by the Ohio Supreme Court effective July 1, 1980. Latest amendment July 1, 2003.

OKLAHOMA. Enacted by the Oklahoma Legislature effective October 1, 1978. Latest amendment November 1, 2003.

OREGON. Enacted by the Oregon Legislature effective January 1, 1982. Latest amendment July 3, 2003.

PENNSYLVANIA. Adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court effective October 1, 1998. Latest amendment January 1, 2002.

PUERTO RICO. Enacted by the Puerto Rico Legislature effective October 1, 1979. Latest amendment August 30, 1999.

RHODE ISLAND. Adopted by the Rhode Island Supreme Court effective October 1, 1987. No amendments.

SOUTH CAROLINA. Enacted by the South Carolina Legislature effective September 3, 1995. No amendments.

SOUTH DAKOTA. Enacted by the South Dakota Legislature effective July 1, 1978. No amendments.

TENNESSEE. Adopted by the Tennessee Supreme Court effective January 1, 1990. Latest amendment July 1, 2003.

TEXAS. Adopted by the Texas Supreme Court effective March 1, 1998. No amendments.

UTAH. Adopted by the Utah Supreme Court effective September 1, 1983. Latest amendment November 1, 2004.

VERMONT. Adopted by the Vermont Supreme Court effective April 1, 1983. Latest amendment May 27, 2003.

WASHINGTON. Adopted by the Washington Supreme Court effective April 2, 1979. Latest amendment September 1, 2003.

WEST VIRGINIA. Adopted by the West Virginia Supreme Court effective February 1, 1985. Latest amendment January 1, 1995.

WISCONSIN. Adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court effective January 1, 1974. Latest amendment March 30, 2004.

WYOMING. Adopted by the Wyoming Supreme Court effective January 1, 1978. Latest amendment February 28, 1995.

THE MILITARY. The Military Rules of Evidence were adopted by Executive order No. 12,198 March 12, 1980. Latest amendment by Executive Order No. 13,262 April 11, 2002.


THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS. No date of adoption found.

What an impressive list of adoptions and enactments patterned after the Federal Rules of Evidence! Several jurisdictions have not adopted rules of evidence based on the Federal Rules of Evidence. They are: California, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York and Virginia.

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Plasma Donations Put a Price on Human Life



Reminiscent of a medical facility, this plasma center, built only a year before is brimming with white lab coats, face shields and medical gloves. The sound of Velcro and beeps from blood pressure machines and the whirring of hematostats as they separate blood and plasma fill the air.

The appearance is all so sterile and clinical, but the workers here are not medically certified, they are only required to have a high school diploma and all are trained by each other. Of the almost 70 workers in this building, besides the LPN nurses and the one RN, certified phlebotomists (medically trained personnel that collect blood, plasma and tissue samples from patients) are 10 % of the workforce here which is a crapshoot for professionalism in the taking of blood and plasma.

As the donors (people who give a voluntary gift of plasma) are processed through, their vitals are taken and their appearance assessed as per the companies standard operating procedures (SOP). 38% of those interviewed come because they need the money to help pay for food, rent or bills, 60 % donate because the money supplemented their vacations or spending money, the other 2 % came because they believed that they were “Saving Lives.” Most are not your typical college students, but instead housewives, part-time workers or the working poor.

Plasmapherisis (the removal, treatment, and return of blood plasma from blood circulation) began back in the 1940’s in order to harvest clotting agents by the pharmaceutical companies – now there are more than 500 donation centers in the United States and more being built every day.

The buying and selling of Blood and Plasma is a multi-billion dollar per year business. Plasma is more commercial than Blood and can not be synthetically replicated. In 1988, more than 21 years ago, the industry made over 2 billion dollars per year alone making the current numbers staggering, but incredibly secret.

US Federal regulation is more liberal than anywhere else in the world allowing up to 60 liters (127 pints) a year. The next highest producing country is Canada allowing only 15 liters per year, which is the recommendation from the World Health Organization. More than half of the plasma used in medicines worldwide is from the US.

While US donors are the source of 60% of the world’s plasma, foreign companies like huge mosquitoes, are the ones that control the product from Japan, West Germany, Austria and Canada, flying in to the US to puncture the blood and plasma supply and then fly the profits home to feed on them. Not only do foreign companies own the majority of plasma collection centers, the majority of plasma medications are also sold abroad as well.

There are two different types of plasma donations…the first is non-profit. The largest would be The American Red Cross. According to FDA regulations, truly donated plasma and blood, without any funds exchanging hands between the donor and the organization, is the only blood or plasma that can be transfused into humans. If an individual is paid any money at all, for their time or for their plasma, it can not be used to “Save Lives” per se. Because for-profit donation centers feed on the need or the greed of the economic world temperature, non-profit donation centers are suffering. When non-profit donation centers suffer, then those who need plasma: burn, shock or trauma victims go without. Those looking to make a humanitarian donations should be donating blood and plasma at non-profit donation centers like the American Red Cross.

Donations that are “paid” for are sold to drug and research companies and with the economic downturn of 2007-2009, plasma donation centers are on the rise with one of the largest Austrian Pharmaceutical backed donation centers achieving a 19% rise in stock prices within a quarter while other markets were plummeting.

The ethical question of Plasma Donation comes at a cost. Organ donation is not an unusual thing, but bodily “donation” that is suppose to help and not hinder human survival is questionable when big business gets involved, and for-profit donation of blood and plasma is very big business.

Plasma that is donated to drug and research companies is refined down and made into medicines that “Save Lives”. What is the cost of those medicines to those that would die without them? $50,000.00 to $80,000.00 per year, which can really change the slogan, “We Save Lives” to “We Cant Afford to Live”. Those without insurance or government funded backing can not afford the medications or treatments and without those “donated” treatments, die. Most are government funded solutions, which means tax payers, donors or non-donors, are paying to treat those that would die without the treatments that are suppose to be a voluntary gift…so the saying, “Give until it hurts” may be more applicable.

For-profit donation centers started targeting college students in the 1970’s to improve the quality of the plasma supply. Companies speculated that college students should be healthier than the average population. In 1999 a study was conducted by Ohio University which found that university plasma donors were not as healthy as once thought. Paid donors are three times more likely than non-donors and four times more likely then Red Cross donors to drink alcohol five or more times a week. One eighth of non-donors, one quarter of Red Cross Donors to one third of paid donors smoke tobacco. Consumption of toxins or unhealthy lifestyle is not the only issue at hand today, body piercings, tattoos and branding are other issues that pose unhealthy donation bases as well. Body art is not always visible and unless confessed to, can not always be subject to scrutiny by the donation center.

For profit donation centers will pay $8.00 -$20.00 dollars for the first donation and then to encourage the donor to come back, will pay a higher price for the second donation within the seven day period.

Depending on the weight of the individual, the donation center will take 690mL to 880mL per donation. The 880mL bottles bring a price of anywhere from $300.00 to $1,700.00 when sold to the Pharmaceutical companies. If there is anything wrong with the plasma, if it’s hemolysised (infused with red blood cells) or if the plasma is lipemic (excess fat within the plasma) the plasma is sold to veterinarian companies and bring a lesser price for the donation center.

Plasma donation was worth approximately 4.5 billion dollars in 2007. Today there are approximately 1.5 to 2 million donors worldwide and is expected to grow significantly in the struggling economy of 2009.

Because of the rapid growth within the industry, corporations train their workforce to take the donations, paying an average of $10.00 per hour. The workforce usually does not have medical certification or medical training unless they are one of the 8 LPN’s or RN’s that are hired. A licensed medical doctor covers the center with his license, but he is rarely seen on the floor of the center. He comes in maybe once a week to sign charts and watch vitals being taken once on those being trained and then he is off again, taking only his cut of the centers profits. The corporate training is not done by the LPN’s or RN or even by the doctor, it is done by regular employees that do not have medical certification or license.

Corporate training consists of reading of Standard Operating Procedures in a conference room for several hours, sometimes days, then you are put out on the floor with a trainer to watch him/her go through the motions. If you have an efficient trainer, then you can process with professionalism, but if you do not, then most Medical Historians (Someone who takes vitals, transcribed medical information and does basic phlebotomy) struggle and their bedside manner, technique and record keeping will leave much to be desired and the donors do not get the care that they may need.

In this center, processing time is a task master. This center processed 570 donors in one day with an average of 390 customers a day. From the time donors check in with the receptionist until they scan out they are timed. Time is money in this industry. When doing vitals, the Medical Historians are given a maximum of 1 minute 21 seconds to complete the processing of the donor and sending them out to the phlebotomy floor for the donation which is not much time to practice accuracy. There is no time to check your gloves for contamination issues such as plasma, mucus or blood, so donors are subject to cross-contamination every time they come into the center. Company policy states that gloves should only be changed when they are contaminated with blood, torn, cut or every two and one-half hours.

That is to save time between donors and the crack of the whip comes from the managers as they wait with stop-watches and pink slips over their white coated slave labor force. The Medical Historians are moving so fast in order to keep from getting fired that there were 2 contaminations of workers within 2 months…both from filled but broken capillary tubes that were shoved into the workers skin through their gloves or through their lab coats and scrubs and into their skin. One contamination happened when a Medical Historian tried to pull a hair out of her mouth and realized that she had just consumed the previous donors blood. Donors have to ask specifically to have the Medical Historians “change your gloves” before they are allowed to do it.

Phlebotomists on the floor are moving just as fast. They have one minute to clean, find the vein and stick the donor. They can stick 3 times, twice per arm unless there is a loss of red blood cells or the donor is in danger and needing saline, then they can stick the third time for emergencies. This causes the likelihood of Hematomas (Blood that collects under the skin or in an organ) for the donors, large bruises over 3 inches and tender areas on the arm. Sometimes, because a donor has to be stuck twice, both arms result in hematomas. Donors have to heal up for several weeks before they can return to donate, which makes the donation process an unreliable source of income for anyone.

When this center is running at full gear, processing 570 donors per day, most who work an 8 hour shift are not allowed to take lunches and sometimes not allow to take bathroom breaks. The pace is fast and furious and as soon as the donors are processed and the plasma is back in the lab, they tear down the used sets and get ready for the next donor. Used sets can be dangerous, they are suppose to be heat sealed but sometimes if there is equipment failure, the tubing doesn’t get sealed completely and when the phlebotomist pulls the tubes off the machines, plasma can splash up and out into the face, unprotected arms and saturate clothing. The Personal Protective Equipment required by OSHA doesn’t always cover everything it needs to cover, especially since Personal Protective Equipment is not fitted or trained on, so the workers are in constant hazard of contamination, which happened at least once within a 3 month period of time in this center. There are not only hazards to the Employees, but to the donors as well in this atmosphere. Because the center is trying to fill beds as soon as possible, sometimes beds are not cleaned before the donors sit down and donors can find themselves sitting in the blood of the last donor.

There are 22 Right-to-Work states in the US, which means that in order to receive lunch and bathroom breaks, they have to be contractual or within Union Guidelines, if they are not, the Department of Labor can not enforce bathroom breaks or Lunches for the workers. Of the 22 Right-to-Work states, plasma centers flood at least 13 of those states, and build fewer plasma centers in non-right to work states.

Employees have a hard 8 to 10 hour shift in front of them, not only working long hours without breaks, but working in a precise and fast paced environment as well and without the certified medical training that is desired.

Because they do not have the training and because the bottom line pushes ethics, sometimes shortcuts are taken. When the plasma is delivered to the lab, the lab tech has only 30 minutes to process all those bottles. If the bottle is leaking, that bottle has to be thrown out because it is air contaminated, if the bottles take longer then 30 minutes to process before being put in the storage freezer, they are thrown out, a loss of a lot of money. What has happened in the past is that the lab tech will push the bottles back over into more time to process, or the lab tech will process an air contaminated bottle and just wipe it down, or instead of taking samples from each of the plasma bottles as required by FDA, they will open one bottle and take all the samples from that one bottle…because it saves time. These infractions can close a center, but only if it is caught and reported to the FDA, which questions the purity and usability of the plasma in the system and poses the question of contamination of medications as well.

Workers who stay in this business have after 3 months suffer from foot problems, back problems, hip problems, headaches, varicose veins and neck problems that are not covered by Workman’s Comp and the conditions are not covered by OSHA. This doesn’t include the possibility of contamination that may render them with HIV, Hepatitis or other communicable diseases. These are long lasting ailments and conditions with long lasting effects. Although there are only a few that stay in this field longer than 6 months, Supervisory positions are no better.

Supervisors have demanding jobs as well. They oversee the operations to maintain not only FDA standards but also the Company’s SOP (Standard Operating Procedures). Supervisors not only man the course of Medical Historians, but also phlebotomists on the floor and incoming data entry. A supervisor must be trained and tested on all aspects of phlebotomy and medical history as well as incoming data. If the Medical Historians and Phlebotomy work 8 to 10 hour shifts without lunch or bathroom breaks, then the supervisor works 12 hour shifts with the same conditions and with the added responsibility of catching all non-conforming events that may give the center a Quality Incident Report that, depending on the severity, may be reported to the FDA if it effects the health of the public.

When new donors come through the door, they are required to read a “New Donor” booklet, which has in it all the side effects, what to expect and some of the documentation that they will be required to sign. From the time they check in until they are done reading the book, even the donors are timed, up to 10 minutes to read their packet of legal documents. After they are done reading, they are asked for two forms of identification, usually a current driver’s license and social security card will be sufficient. If the driver’s license is not current or an address is not current, then a piece of mail that is dated less than 60 days can be used to verify the address. Social Security must be verified by Social Security Card, current Tax Information or Pay stub.

Plasma donors are usually not aware of side effects and most likely told that plasma donations are safe in the long term…the reality is that 7% of the human population has an anaphylactic reaction to sodium citrate or saline of which they will need intravenous medications immediately. If they do not receive treatment within minutes, the reaction is fatal.

In this center, we have at least 5 to 6 lesser reactions a day, sometimes more. Immediate side effects can be fainting, bleeding, edema at the venipuncture site, nausea, vomiting, drop in blood pressure, faintness, dizziness, blurred vision, coldness, sweating or abdominal cramps.

If allowed to progress the side effects can be tingling around the mouth or in the limbs, muscle cramps, metallic taste in the mouth and further reactions can lead to irregular heartbeat or seizures.

After prolonged donations, 12% of donors will have a lowered level of antibodies, causing an inadequate immune system response and the probability of increased infection or disease for the rest of their lives.

Plasma donations can save lives, especially when given freely and as a humanitarian gesture…drug and research companies would like the public to believe that they are the good guys in order to increase the bottom line in this Multi-billion dollar business, profiting on the generosity of some and the desperation and greed of others, treating donors like Cash Cows grazing on the bottom line.

For-profit donations feed a fire-storm of ethical questions such as, “if selling human organs is immoral, unethical and illegal, then what makes selling Plasma any different?” “If harvesting a human organ and holding it ransom to those that can pay the price to live, if selling it to the highest bidder is wrong, then isn’t harvesting plasma and selling it to those that would die without it the same thing?” What is the cost of a human life? With 15 million donations a year, the plasma industry looks the donor gift horse in the mouth everyday and laughs all the way to the bank. For-Profit plasma companies have a win-win situation…donors give their plasma or practically give their plasma to the industry and the blood sucking, plasma hoarding corporations can turn around and charge $50,000.00 to $80,000.00 a year to allow a person to live, long term cost projections are at $3.7 million to $5.9 million for medications that allow one person to live a normal life…and now we can put a price on what a human life is worth to the plasma industry.

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