Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Commit for Life
My first donation was at a high school blood drive. I was eighteen. After graduating, I found that the donor coaches would sometimes come to my workplace, and I would happily roll up my sleeve. Boy Scout winter camp usually brings another opportunity to donate.
Without really trying at all, I've donated 22 pints of blood. That's 2 donations away from 3 gallons, people. But I have yet to live up to the Commit for Life promise I signed three years ago. The commitment says that I will donate once per quarter. My average... twice a year.
It's easy to donate when the coach comes to my office, but that only happens once or twice a year. Last year I couldn't donate at winter camp. I was still ineligible from my previous donation... by ONE DAY. I realized that meeting that once per quarter goal might actually take some effort on my part.
Two months ago, I had a day off and decided to stop by my neighborhood Blood Center to make a donation. I learned that they are open until 6:00 PM Monday - Thursday. I get off early enough to go after work. Great! So, I marked my calendar to donate again on May 17.
Yesterday, I drove straight to the Blood Center after work, ready to continue my renewed commitment of regular donations. But I hit another roadblock. My hemocrit (iron level) was 1 point too low. 24 hour deferral. Crap!
The technician gave me some helpful advice on getting more iron into my system and suggested I come back in a day or two. Since the technician was talkative, I asked her about platelet donations. I'd heard about it, but wanted details. I learned that it takes 6 whole blood donations to generate the same amount of platelets that can be collected from 1 automated platelet donation, and platelets only have a shelf life of 5 days so they always need donations. The process takes 2 hours and you can donate every week (max of 24 per year).
I'm not sure if I can sit still with a needle in my arm for 2 hours, but I'm thinking about giving it a try. My appointment is tomorrow.
How about you... would you do it? Have you done it?
I did it! I donated platelets and red cells yesterday. It was a lot like giving blood, just took a lot longer. I was on the machine for 1 hour, and they told me that it might be longer next time. The only side effect I experienced was a strange tingling in my mouth, and my hand did get a little tired of squeezing the ball after a while. I did not get light-headed at all (which sometimes happens when I donate whole blood).
The best part is that I don't have to wait 8 weeks to make my next donation. I can go back next week if I want. However, the Blood Center recommends waiting 2 weeks, which will work better with my schedule. And I get to watch TV - another big plus, since we still don't have it at home.
I've already marked my calendar to make another appointment on June 2. Anyone want to join me?
Commit for Life
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