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Donating platelets

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I was going to donate blood this afternoon but when I arrived at the American Red Cross, I discovered that there is a greater need for platelet donations (which are used primarily for cancer patients). I booked an appointment for tomorrow, since it's my day off. It takes about 70 minutes to two hours to donate, so most people watch a movie of their choice while hooked up.


Here's some info about the process. You can also visit: http://www.givelife2.org/donor/default.asp

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</form> Donating Platelets

What are Platelets?

Platelets are blood cells that help control bleeding. When a blood vessel is damaged, platelets collect at the site of the injury and temporarily repair the tear. Platelets then activate substances in plasma which form a clot and allow the wound to heal.

What is Apheresis?

Apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis) is a special kind of blood donation that allows a donor to give specific blood components, such as platelets. During the apheresis procedure, all but the needed blood component are returned to the donor.

Why is Blood Separated?

Different patients need different types of blood components, depending on their illness or injury. After you donate whole blood, the unit is separated into platelets, red cells and plasma in our laboratory. Only two tablespoons of platelets are collected from a whole blood donation. Six whole blood donations must be separated and pooled to provide a single platelet transfusion. However, one apheresis donation provides enough platelets for one complete transfusion -- that's six times the amount collected from a whole blood donation.

Who Needs Platelets?

Many lifesaving medical treatments require platelet transfusions. Cancer patients, those receiving organ or marrow transplants, victims of traumatic injuries, and patients undergoing open heart surgery require platelet transfusions to survive.

Because platelets can be stored for only five days, the need for platelet donations is vast and continuous.

Platelet transfusions are needed each year by thousands of patients like these:

  • Heart surgery patient
    6 units
  • Burn patient
    20 units
  • Organ transplant patient
    30 units
  • Marrow transplant patient
    120 units
Who Can Be an Apheresis Donor?If you meet the requirements for donating blood, you probably can give platelets. Apheresis donors must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • be in good health
  • weigh at least 110 pounds
  • not have taken aspirin or products containing aspirin 72 hours prior to donation.
Are Apheresis Donations Safe?Yes. Each donation is closely supervised throughout the procedure by trained staff. A small percentage of your platelets are collected, so there is no risk of bleeding problems. Your body will replace the donated platelets within 72 hours. The donation equipment (needle, tubing, collection bags) are sterile and discarded after every donation, making it virtually impossible to contract a disease from the process.

How Does the Procedure Work?

Blood is drawn from your arm through sterile tubing into a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins the blood to separate the components, which vary in weight and density. A port is opened along the spinning tubing at the level containing platelets. These platelets are drawn up into a collection bag, while the remaining blood components (red cells and plasma) are returned to you through your other arm.

How Long Does it Take?

Depending on your weight and height, the apheresis donation process will take approximately 70 minutes to two hours. You may watch television or videotapes, listen to music, or simply sit back and relax while helping to save a life.

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Bump!

I had my appointment today which went pretty well! It's really interesting how the whole process works. Basically, they withdraw blood from one arm, filter out the platelets through a centrifuge like machine and then pump blood back into your other arm. So you don't actually lose any blood -- you're just giving microscopic blood cells that help with clotting.

I watched Dodgeball (the RNs were amused at my "intellectual" choice of film) which I had never seen before, quite amusing! The only side effect I experienced was a tingling sensation throughout my body. They explained to me that during the process, you lose calcium which affects your nervous system (so sensitive areas like around your mouth with tingle). But I made sure to rest afterwards and loaded up on orange juice, water & Cheezits before I left the Red Cross. And I'm lying low this afternoon.


I plan to donate again -- you can actually give platelets every 2 weeks (unlike a regular whole blood donation where you can only donate every 56 days). My platelets will be going to a cancer patient within the next five days, to help them make it through chemotherapy.

I really encourage you to think about donating! When you give whole blood, the actual donation is only about 10-15 minutes. It's an awesome way to make a difference, especially if you aren't able to give a monetary donation.

The American Red Cross has a great informative website: WWW.GIVELIFE2.ORG

 
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Originally Posted by Joyeuux My platelets will be going to a cancer patient within the next five days, to help them make it through chemotherapy. This is what it is all about!
 

Liz

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yay for you helping people out


i used to donate blood when i was in HS. never done the platelets though

 
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I work at a hospital and donate 1x every other month. My vein blows out. but oh well. They call me at my office and say "its that time!" i dont mind doing it. My BF father died of cancer as did my grandmother.. Platelets really help cancer victims.. and my blood type is A- so they are calling me for blood too. its a great thing, i just hate being so cold during it! Thats the only annoying part. oh yea and squeezing that ball!!!

 
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I'm having problems w/the website...its not letting me post stuff... I'm trying to answer Joy's post.... Hey., I'll try again... I'll do a cut & paste from my last attempt... (anyone else having problems??? - I emailed Tony) FYI...

Hey Joy....I use to work right next door to Long Island Blood Center - they were always looking for platelet donors (That's Big)...It's such a procedure, I never had the time to do that., but I did give blood (which took 20 min. outta my lunch hour) - I'm A positive... & I was happy to do at least that - I gave blood when 9-11 happened ! when they were looking for any & all blood types....It made me feel....like, at least "I" did something to Help !


 
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Originally Posted by K*O* I'm having problems w/the website...its not letting me post stuff... I'm trying to answer Joy's post.... Hey., I'll try again... I'll do a cut & paste from my last attempt... (anyone else having problems??? - I emailed Tony) FYI... Sorry... I am not having any problems with MUT tonight.
 
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Originally Posted by Charmaine Yeah I read it depends on how much you weigh. And at least you get to watch a movie
Yeah I couldn't do it.. I weigh 103 pounds
 
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BUMP!

I donated platelets again today and it went really well! I ate a lot beforehand and also made sure to take calcium supplements this time (helped a lot!)

Here is some text from the Red Cross in regards to the current blood shortage:

There is currently a critical blood shortage. The American Red Cross is issuing an urgent national appeal for blood donations. National blood inventory levels have dropped well below a safe and adequate supply. In order to meet the needs of hospital patients across the nation, the American Red Cross strongly urges anyone who is eligible to give blood to call 1-800 GIVE-LIFE as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to donate. Every day, blood is needed in hospitals and emergency treatment facilities for patients with cancer and other diseases, for organ transplant recipients, and to help save the lives of accident victims. Without more blood on the shelves, the Red Cross cannot ensure that hospitals will have the blood they need to treat all patients.

“Right now, patients in hospitals across the country need you to roll up your sleeve and give the gift of lifesaving blood.†said Dr. Jerry Squires, Chief Medical Officer, American Red Cross Biomedical Services. “Blood must be available at a moment’s notice to help patients in need. We have reached an emergency situation and the blood will not be there without the immediate response of generous, volunteer blood donors like you.†[click here to read more]

 

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