Last weekend, I finally had enough time to donate platelets. I donate blood all the time and I guess the Red Cross figured I was a good candidate for platelet donation. Donating platelets takes about 2 hours and is worth about 3 full blood donations for an adult “dose” or about 12 pediatric “doses” of full blood. Platelets help your blood to clot. Certain illness, chemo, HELLP syndrome, and lots of other things can cause a loss of platelets, which can cause lots of other problems.
Donating was a nice pre-Mother’s Day break for me. I got up early, having made the earliest appointment possible, and had breakfast. I drove to the Red Cross center and checked in. I got a Platelet Donor pin. After the standard iron check and questions, I was ready to start!
The chairs for platelet donation are soooo much nicer than the ones they use for regular blood donors. They reclined and adjusted, and they pushed over a table for me so that I could read. The actual procedure wasn’t bad either, although I can see why they have trouble getting people to do it. The chair sits next to a machine that will run your blood through it and spin it, to separate the platelets from the rest of the blood. The platelets go into a blood bag and the rest of the blood is pushed back into you via an IV type setup. They run the first needle into your arm, like a normal blood donation, and then they run a second needle into back of the opposite hand, like an IV. The blood comes out one arm, goes into the machine, spins around, gets split into platelets and leftover blood, and then the leftover blood gets pushed back into your veins via the IV. As long as you don’t move your hand like you are revving a motorcycle, you can do whatever you want. I read a book.
When I had Little Miss Minion, my platelets had been dangerously low for weeks. Until the last set of labs came back, they weren’t sure if I would be able to have a C Section, or they would have to put me under general anesthesia. Luckily, mine had jumped a massive amount and I was cleared for the epidural pretty much as they were putting it in. I had wanted to donate platelets for a long time since then, but since it does take two hours, I needed the stars to align so I could go.
I hope I was able to help someone in a similar situation. I’m not 100% sure how platelet donation works on the receiving end, but I hope a new mom was able to be awake for the birth of her child because of me. I hope she got to kiss the baby and see it, maybe even hold it, instead of being totally out due to platelet issues. And I hope that she eventually donates platelets too.