I'm no novice to donating blood to the American Red Cross, although I definitely don't do it as often as I should. I tend to donate a few times a year. I should really change that up though. There are so many people who need the blood....They need it, I've got it, I'm eligible to give it to them. I feel guilty about missing donations.
Anyways, when they called up to remind me of my eligibility last week, they mentioned that I am eligible to donate platelets, and that my blood type is needed. I haven't ever done that, so I figured I'd give it a shot! Here's my experience:
Actually, my experience is a LITTLE different than it would have been any other day. Today was their anniversary (although I'm not quite sure which anniversary? I believe it was over 100 years), and to celebrate it, a news crew and a bunch of guests were there to do a press conference. THANK GOODNESS I did my makeup before I left the house, and threw on a wig, because I just might show up on the news tonight! HaHa!
There was a little girl there, probably no older than 8. I figured she was just tagging along with her mom, and then I saw the crews talking to her. She was a little girl who had undergone some illness that required her to be either a blood or platelets recipient! I'm not lying when I say that I teared up watching her and her mom talk to the news crew. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but I will try to get a link to her story when they publish it, so we can both hear it!
On to the platelets donation! The American Red Cross volunteers and employees were, as always, very accomodating and friendly. They gave me a book to choose a movie from, and some headphones and a remote with my own personal little TV. On that note: I do NOT recommend choosing "Running With Scissors." I didn't want to get stuck with a movie I didn't like for 2 hours (once you start you can't move to change it), so I went with something I remember watching and liking before. It wasn't something I could watch sitting completely still again though.... next time, I'll choose something a little more action packed. (And maybe something that doesn't have this scene in it)
TehThe timer was set (to 115 minutes!), I was hooked up to needles on both arms, and the machine went to work.
A few things I thought interesting that I didn't know about:
*They give you Tums (optional) beforehand.
*My fingertips fell asleep in my hand that was giving the blood. Apparently that was normal. They loosened the bandaid (from the fingerprick) for me, and gave me a little wedge to alleviate it.
*I am capable of not moving my upper body for 2 hours. I had no idea.
*When the blood goes back into your body, you get COLD. They had LOTS of blankets to give donors though!
*When the machine is taking your blood, sometimes in the beginning it vibrates every so often. That's kind of a weird feeling. Not bad... just different.
*You can have a weird taste in your mouth (from the saline). I didn't, but it can happen.
The one thing that struck me was when they took the needle out of my left arm. It bled faster than I've ever seen it with a regular donation. I mentioned it to the nurse, and she said it was because there were no platelets at that site. That made me think how much these are needed. Can you IMAGINE having to worry about bleeding with every cut you get? This is why these platelet donations are needed so badly.
When they were finished, the nurse showed me my platelets. Two hours gave a little tiny bag of what basically looked like colostrum (mommas who breastfed, you know what I'm talking about). It brought back memories, and I wanted to scream "Be careful with that! I was pumping for 2 hours!"
But just like pumping out milk, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be pumping out blood at a regular basis now. Platelets are only shelf stable for 5 days, but they get used up before that, so they are needed ALL the time.
Make sure you follow me on Facebook to get my latest blogs!
Jillian Shanahan is an online job coach, mentor, and teacher.