Selflessness=Painful

I gave platelets today. I went over to the Citicorp building on 53rd and Lex. at lunchtime and got my blood pumped out of me. The procedure, called Apheresis, entails putting 2 needles in one arm. The blood is taken out, centifuged, pulling the needed blood component out then adding an anticoagulant before returning the blood back into my arm. And it’s not a restful procedure. You have to actually have a relationship with the machine- squeezing and pumping on the intake turn, and resting on the return. I’m tired.

Why give platelets? Because my blood is rare, whole blood donations are not in demand. But you can give platelets to anyone. Cancer patients, those receiving organ or bone marrow transplants, victims of traumatic injuries, and patients undergoing open heart surgery require platelet transfusions to survive. You can donate platelets every 3 days or so, because they’re not taking whole blood, and they’re giving back most of it.

So I’m sitting in the Blood Donor room, and my left hand has 2 needles in it. I was told not to move, or I would blow the vein. I tried to read, but everytime I tried to concentrate, I’d forget to squeeze and the machine would beep. It snitched on me! The technician would then come over and repeat the directions all over again. About 45 minutes into this, my hand goes totally numb. Then my lips, then my nose. Have you ever tried to squeeze something while your hand is asleep? It hurts. Fifty minutes into the procedure I look up and see the yellow pus, I mean platelets, hanging above me. Great. I can stand seeing blood, but this turned my stomach and I broke out in a sweat. 5 minutes later the room starts spinning. I told myself I have 13 minutes- I can do this for 13 minutes. I forget to squeeze, the machine beeps, and adds another 4 minutes. Argh! Finally, the machine beeped one last time and I was done. This was the first time I had such a strong reaction to giving.

I was going to try to do this once a week, but I think I’ll have to scale it back to once a month. After this, giving blood is a dream. So remember- when the blood mobile comes around, donate!

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