Tuesday, March 8, 2011

An Urban Donor: Personal Challenge Met

Today, for the first time, I donated platelets. I'll tell you, it wasn't the ordeal I expected it to be (to the point that I'm thinking about when I'll be next available to go back).

1. They no longer do it with a needle per arm: instead, it's one needle (or at least only one complex prick) and you're good to go.
2. They let me watch Harry Potter (and simultaneously read Anne of Green Gables, which, as anyone who knows the slightest bit about me knows, is one of my favorite books of all time. What a combo!
3. No Lorna Doones, but I did get a packet of Oreos and a bottle of water for while I waited for G.
4. They take as many units as you are able to give (based on height, weight, platelet count, gender, etc). I could only give one unit, and it took about an hour. It only takes about half an hour to forty minutes more to donate two or three units (the max).

I got a little numb/tingly in my mouth and nose, as if I'd been drinking, but that was about it. I felt great at the end (though a little sleepy and antsy from sitting so still and not being allowed to sleep).

Fact: A typical patient may require up to 120 units of platelets over the course of his treatment.
Fact: A person can donate platelets twice a month, for 24 times a year (that's a maximum of 72 units in a year)
Fact: Platelets only last 5 days, because they can't be frozen like red blood, and one of those days goes to testing.
Fact: If platelets are unavailable to meet the need of a patient, his chemo or other cancer treatment must be further delayed until both the platelets are available and have had time to take.

And, finally...

Fact: not all those who need platelets have family and friends who can donate for them, and rely on the community. It is no more uncomfortable than giving blood (actually less uncomfortable, given my lousy blood donation experience), and only takes a couple hours of time. Unless you are unable to donate, you should. You could help save a life.

This is so important, I can't emphasize it enough. Please donate. If you can't bring yourself to donate platelets or blood, then please consider donating money to support patients in other ways.

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