Saturday, May 09, 2009

Giving A Little Something Back...

I have been blessed with good health and a really high platelet count and so every 6 weeks or so I donate platelets at the Red Cross in a process called Apheresis. I first learned about this donation option after donating whole blood at a whole blood drive held at the company I worked for. After my donation, the apheresis department called me to tell me I have a really high platelet count and that I'd be an excellent candidate for double donations of platelets.

Me at a recent donation.

The platelets can be used for various purposes the most common being for bone marrow transfer, cancer, and leukemia patients. The donation process takes an hour for a single donation and a bit longer for a double. During the donation, the donor gets to recline in a really comfy chair complete with blankets and heating pads to stay warm (the fluid return can make you kind of chilly!). Where I donate, you get to watch your choice of movie during the process to pass the time. I donate using both arms, but there are chairs and machines that can do the donation using just one arm (it takes a little longer, though). Since you get your blood back after the platelets are removed you can donate more frequently and I find that I don't feel faint after the procedure like I do when I donate whole blood. However, if you bruise easily just be warned that sometimes a donation doesn't always go as planned...I've had several beautiful bruises after a donation!

Don't let scary bruises deter you though, it really is worth it to donate: My little brother was in a bad accident on my parent's farm in 2007 which required him to have multiple life saving blood transfusions (see picture of him in the ICU). Isaac was kicked in the face by a horse and suffered a broken jaw and deep laceration on his cheek. The horse's hoof severed an artery in his cheek and my brother nearly bled to death before receiving the life saving transfusions. Having seen how donated blood is used first hand, I try to give a little something back so maybe I can help someone else's brother survive. You never know when your donation is saving someone's life as one donor helped do for my little brother. Please consider donating blood at your local Red Cross. If you can give up a couple hours of your time, please see if you are a candidate to donate platelets at your local Red Cross.

It really CAN save a life!



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