Friday, January 28, 2011

The easiest way to save a life

It's easy!

If you could help save a life by simply giving an hour of your time, would you?

I learned about the importance of platelet donation after my sister was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in October 2010. With the help of God, the support of family and friend, a great team of doctors and nurses and the donors who gave their blood and platelets, my sister is thriving. After noticing the UNC Health Care Blood Donation Center after my sister received a platelet transfusion for the third time in a row, I decided to learn more about the process and made an appointment to donate some of my own platelets. The staff was very friendly, helpful and professional. They made the donation process a pleasure and something I look forward to doing again.

My Donation Experience
My arm: one poke, three tubes
After checking into the donation center, I filled out a health questionnaire in a private room. The questionnaire asked about past illnesses, vaccines, medicines I take and other health-related issues. After completing the questionnaire, a nurse took my blood pressure and temperature. He also made sure I was not anemic by picking the tip of my middle finger and testing the blood; the test took three seconds.

After speaking with the nurse, I picked out a movie, a snack and a couple of beverages. I sat in a comfortable lounge chair and put my right arm over a warm heating pad. A different nurse had me squeeze a warm stress ball full of gel and tied a tourniquet around my right bicep. She then said, “Squeeze the ball twice, and hold,” so I did. She then cleaned my skin and told me to breathe in as she stuck a needle in my arm. The needle didn’t hurt; I thought the nurse was scratching me with a cleansing pad when she stuck me.

Separating my platelets
Once the needle was in, the nurse held it in place with a bandage before she covered me with blankets because it was important for me to stay warm during the process. The machine next to me then began to whir and my blood began running through the plastic tubes in it. After a while, I could see my platelets fill the bag hanging next to me. During the 57 minutes it took to give my platelets, I watched a movie, ate my snacks, drank my beverages and texted on my cell phone. The nurse then removed the needle from my arm and wrapped it with a compression bandage. After I finished my juice, I was good to go on with my day.

Facts about Platelet Donations:
How it works
  • In 2009 UNC Health Care used an average of 350 platelets per month. However, the UNC Health Care's Blood Donation Center collects only 210 platelets a month.This deficit of platelets is seen in hospitals throughout the U.S.
  • It takes six to eight bags of donated blood to fill one bag of platelets. However, you can donate just platelets.
  • When you donate just platelets, you are only poked with one needle and the blood taken from you is returned with the same needle.
  • A lack of platelets in a cancer patient can cause bruising, hemorrhaging of the eyes, the inability for wounds to heal and blood blisters in the mouth.
  • It only takes an hour to donate platelets.
  • You can donate platelets every two weeks.
  • Blood type does not matter when it comes to donations.
  • Check with your local donation center to see if you are eligible to donate platelets. 

My platelets
The platelet donation experience was awesome and worth it. When I work, my time as a professional is worth a certain amount of money. A life, however, has no price and takes something as simple as an hour and a platelet donation to save.

Save a life today.

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