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A plasma fund-raiser

A local Catholic suggests that blood plasma donors give their payments to the Magdalene Home girls' program

Whether the voice came from within or without, Paul Steinbroner still isn't sure.

But the message the 53-year-old triathlete heard while running last summer was both absolutely clear and utterly confusing:

It told me that I was supposed to donate my blood to the Magdalene Home and to get other people to do that, too, recalls Steinbroner, a Talent filmmaker.

More specifically, the message suggested that Steinbroner donate blood plasma for cash and use the proceeds to benefit the area's only shelter for pregnant teens and their babies.

It wasn't like a marquee, it was a like a whisper, says Steinbroner.

A lifelong Roman Catholic, Steinbroner wasn't about to argue with what he figures was the voice of God.

Instead, he moved forward with an unusual charitable drive that provides plasma for medical uses, money for the Magdalene Home girls' program and goodwill for the donors who participate.

It's a win-win-win, says Steinbroner, a normally reserved guy who was moved to pitch his project to every mass at Catholic churches in Medford and Ashland.

So far, more than 30 members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church have signed up to donate to the ZLB Plasma Services center in Medford.

Steinbroner hopes to inspire 150 donors to raise up to &

36;10,000 for the center that provides shelter, care and education for girls ages 14 to 21 who choose not to have abortions.

This seems more loving and proactive than telling somebody not to do something, Steinbroner says.

That's good news for Connie Moyer, director of the Magdalene Home, who says the agency has to scrape for every penny of the &

36;300 a day it takes to run the center.

Plasma donation may be an unusual fund-raiser, but it's a consistent one, she figures.

If you don't have money, we all have blood, says Moyer, who's housing five girls and their babies, ranging from — months to age 2.

Donors can earn &

36;25 on their first trip and &

36;45 every visit after that, raising up to &

36;70 the first week.

After two Saturday donations set aside for Magdalene Home, the agency already has &

36;600 banked in its name, said Jane Herrera, director of the plasma center.

But the teen shelter isn't the only beneficiary of Steinbroner's vision. Herrera has been wracking her brain, trying to think of ways to encourage new plasma donors.

The local center generates about 1,100 donations a week, lower than the 1,300 donations they'd like to have, she said.

We have the facilities to do upward of 1,500 donations a week, Herrera said.

Unlike whole blood, which is used for transfusions, plasma products are needed for pharmaceutical purposes and other medical uses, she said.

Plasma donation has suffered from a seedy image in the past, acknowledges Herrera. Like others in the industry, the local lab has worked to encourage new clients: moving out of low-income areas, encouraging people from all walks of life to participate.

Basically, it's anybody who wants to help somebody out and put a little cash in their pocket, said Herrera. We get a lot of students, for instance.

Charitable donations could produce a whole new plasma market, she says.

It doesn't take long for them to build up a nice little fund, she says.

Encouraging fellow parishioners to take the time ' several hours ' and the effort to submit to the prick of a needle has been challenging, Steinbroner says.

When they say they're afraid of the poke, I say, 'Are you more afraid than the 16-year-old girl who's pregnant?' he says.

The way Steinbroner sees it, the plasma drive is one way that people who oppose abortion can stand up for their values.

It's expiation, he says.

It's in a way sacrificial giving. When you don't have money, you can always give of yourself.Donor guidelines

Donors in the plasma program for Magdalene Home are encouraged to sign up for slots starting at 8 a.m. Saturday.

First-time donors must bring picture identification and their Society Security cards and should plan to spend between three and four hours for the first visit and an hour for ensuing visits.

The first visit includes a mini-physical to screen out unsuitable donors, says Jane Herrera, director of ZLB Plasma Services in Medford.

We're turning away more people than we let in, she says.

Donors must agree to at least two donations within the first 30 days and preferably two donations in the first week.

Donors must be at least 18 and no older than 59.

Donors may not give plasma if they meet the following conditions:

Weigh less than 110 pounds.

Donated whole blood in the last eight weeks.

Got tattoos or body piercings in the past 12 months.

Consumed alcohol in the 24 hours before donating.

Ever had hepatitis, or have been in contact with an infected person during the past 12 months.

Have a history of IV drug use.

Suffer from epilepsy, diabetes, cancer or heart problems.

Are pregnant or nursing mothers.

Have been jailed for three or more consecutive days in the past 12 months.

Were born or have lived for six months or longer in the following countries since 1977: England, Germany, France, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger or Nigeria.

Donors should eat a well-balanced meal and drink plenty of water before each donation.

ZLB Plasma Services is at 1221 S. Riverside Ave., Medford.

Phone Steinbroner at 535-7733 or the plasma center at 776-9926 for information.

Paul Steinbroner gives blood at the ZLB Plasma Services center in Medford, with the assistance of Melissa Tyree. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli