Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Donating Platelets & Plasma

Be extra nice to me. I spent 2 hours donating blood today. :)

here I am, all cozy in my blankets, donating platelets and plasma, while wearing headphones and watching TV

As you may know, I try to donate blood every 2-3 months, and have been doing so for about 5 years.

Today, I tried something new. Once I had made my appt with the blood center online a couple of days ago, they called to ask if I would be willing to donate Platelets and Plasma instead.

They explained the process to me. There's still only one needle stick, but I'd be hooked up to a machine that would separate the Platelets and Plasma in my blood from my blood, then the blood (along with some saline) is returned to me. They told me that the entire process could take up to two hours. (versus 20 minutes or so for whole blood donation.)

Here's the explanation from the American Red Cross site:

During a platelet donation, a small portion of your blood (less than one pint at a time), is drawn from your arm and passed through a sophisticated cell-separating machine. The machine collects the platelets and safely returns the remaining blood components, along with some saline, back to you. After the donation you can resume your normal activities, avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous exercise that day.

A single platelet donation can provide enough platelets for a full therapeutic dose for a patient in need. In fact, some platelet donations yield enough platelets for two or three therapeutic doses. By contrast, it takes about five whole blood donations to produce a single therapeutic dose. Many patients who need platelets are undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems. A platelet dose from a single donor reduces the patient’s exposure to multiple donors and is therefore preferred by many physicians.

The blood center told me that platelets and plasma are in much greater demand right now than whole blood. I had the time this afternoon, so I figured I'd give it a try.

From the donor's end, the process was very much the same: check blood pressure, temperature and iron level, then sit down in a nice chair, arm propped on the arm of the chair, and needle in the vein.

The chair was extra-lounge-y, and they covered me with blankets and warm pads. Apparently, the donor can get quite cold from this procedure. I'm guessing it has something to do with the saline entering your blood stream?

Anyhow, I was comfy-cozy in my blankets. They also swung an arm with a computer monitor with a keyboard above and in front of me so that I could use the internet, watch movies from their library, or watch TV. It was kind of like flying first class - without the liquor. ;)

The entire procedure took about 90 minutes, I think, not including the paper work and checking my vitals beforehand, and the time I needed to rest in the chair after.

It was a good experience, and I'd gladly do it again and maybe make it my new regular routine.

Another difference - with whole blood donation, the donor needs to wait at least 8 weeks before donating again. With Platelet and Plasma donation, it's only 4 weeks.

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