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?

Update (5/20/10)

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?