I regularly check the Popular Content section on the sidebar of this blog to see what readers are enjoying the most. This valuable information helps me plan future topics or encourages me to tackle previous topics from another angle or with updates. One post that always shows up is To Give or Not To Give…, a look at my first platelets donation experience, so I wanted to share more about my experience since this post.
A lot has happened since my previous post four years ago. I’ve become a regular platelets donor, averaging 12 donations a year, and notching 18 visits in 2015. I’ve accepted the fact that I freeze during my donations, wrapping up in blankets and utilizing a large heating pad (and hot pack to squeeze). I do seem to set off the monitor a little less frequently now, so my mummifying attempts seem to be working. 🙂
As noted above, I try to make it to my local DC (donation center) monthly, which is a little easier to do with a couple of Red Cross updates. The Blood Donor app is so convenient! It allows you to schedule platelets donations online, review your donation history, manage appointments and track your donations, among other tasks. Rapid Pass is a time-saver, as it allows you to answer the interview questions in advance on the day of your appointment. It’s not available via mobile, but it is a nice way to cut down on the time you spend at the facility. [2018 UPDATE: Rapid Pass is now available via mobile!]
Changes have been made to the actual donation process too. In the past year, the Red Cross has gone back to a two-needle donation process: blood is drawn from one arm and returned in your other arm after having your platelets (and possibly plasma) removed. Unfortunately my body didn’t take to the two-arm process at all, so my DC accepts my donations via a one-arm donation.
After taking a few months off, I’m starting to donate monthly again. I realize others donate more, up to the maximum of 24 times per year, but that seems to be too much for my body to handle. Last fall, I started to have issues during donations, so the Red Cross stopped taking plasma during my platelets donations, which has helped immensely.
I’m continuing to monitor how my body handles donations going forward but am looking forward to making regular monthly donations again. The Blood Donor app, Rapid Pass and returning to a one-arm donation process have helped me continue to help others in need. Curious? Visit http://www.redcrossblood.org/platelets to learn more about the platelets donation process.
Your Feedback Requested
Do you donate blood, platelets, plasma or a platelets/plasma combination?
Do you react to the anticoagulant by sneezing frequently? (I just made it through my first donation without needing TUMS!)
What do you think of the two-arm collection process vs. the one-arm?
Have you experienced any side effects from donating?
To all fellow donors, thank you!
Let’s chat (about platelets donations, paying it forward or otherwise):
3 thoughts on “To Give or Not To Give: A 4-Year Journey”
Hi, I found this entry interesting because I am thinking of donating platelets for the first time. I donate whole blood regularly, but I feel like I should do more to help. You mentioned you were having issues during your donations and it helped for them to stop taking plasma. Besides the cold body temp and tingling, what sort of issues. (The cold body temp part sounds awful to me; I am always cold). Also, do you know why they went back to a two arm/two needle method? The thought of not being able to move either arm for 2.5 hours sounds awful (how do you scratch an itch?). Anyway, kudos to you for sticking with it. Any info you can give will be appreciated.
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Hi Lisa, thanks for donating whole blood! It’s a pleasure to meet a fellow donor. For some reason, taking platelets and plasma together started making me pass out after the donation. We couldn’t figure out why, because I did it regularly for years. I do think I donated too frequently at one point, so that may have contributed. (I didn’t go over their limits, but I’m only 5’2″ so I don’t think I can donate as much as an average size person.)
After taking some time off, I’ve switched to plasma only, which has been going well. It doesn’t take as long as platelets, and my body responds better to it. If you’re uncomfortable being hooked up with both arms, request a one-arm bag. I do, and they have no problems with my donations. (Better quality was supposedly why they switched back.) Talk to the Red Cross techs to see where you would be best utilized. And if it turns out to be as a whole blood donor, know that your donations are appreciated. Thanks for giving!