Friday, March 27, 2009

Platelets - Title Change

If you have read this thing from the beginning, you have already heard about this, but I am going to post about it again, in hopes that more people will participate. You will save a life.

Every quarter, some of my workplace colleagues, along with a few friends and sometimes the mom of 1 of our kids, set our alarms for an indecently early hour and stumble on down to our local Red Cross for our quarterly "Day of Life" platelet donation. If you have never done this before, it is nothing like giving blood. There are about 863 legitimate reasons you can't donate platelets, including:
  • the heartbreak of inadequate veins (oh, the humanity!)
  • a recent tattoo of "I love Jessica Simpson" - if you're that stupid, we don't want your platelets. It might make the person getting your platelets stupid as well. Just kidding. Your stupidity isn't catching that way. At least I hope not.
  • any other recent tattoo of anyone or anything
  • any IV drug user
  • any illegal drug user
  • any prescription drug user
  • any aspirin user
  • any recent sex with a gay man
  • any recent sex with a resident of Africa
  • any recent sex with an IV drug user
  • any recent sex with a monkey
  • any recent sex, period
  • any large, tough man who will drop in a dead faint when a needle sucks blood out of him (someone knows who I am talking about here)
  • anyone else who will drop in a dead faint at the tiny fingerprick for the 1 measly drop of blood they have to test to see if you have been chewing through enough rusty nails lately
You do know I made some of those up, right?

Anyway, it is a loooong list of red flags, which means that there are only 37 people left in the whole city who can donate platelets, and half of us were there this morning. So, here are some peeks at the experience. It is a busy, bustling place, even so early in the morning:

Most of the very comfy recliners now have their very own TV to watch. I got one too, so I set the channel to Good Morning America, and during our local news break, we saw the 'welcome home' of one of our carriers, the USS Iwo Jima:

Some facts about apheresis:
  • Apheresis usually refers to platelets, which are the most common components drawn through this method.
  • In the human body, platelets are the first step in the clotting process.
  • Apheresis donors give about 10% of their platelets, with no loss in clotting ability.
  • Bone marrow transplant, cancer, and leukemia patients benefit significantly from platelets, which greatly reduce the chances of rejection.
  • It takes about two hours to collect enough platelets to help bone marrow transplant, cancer, and leukemia patients.
  • Donors with high platelet counts often are able to donate two units of platelets in one visit.
  • The collection bags, tubing and needles are all sterile, and used for one donation only. The donor's blood never comes in direct contact with the machine.
  • Individuals can donate platelets frequently (every 48 hours) because platelets are rapidly replaced, usually within one day.
  • Once collected, platelets must be transfused within five days or be discarded.
  • On average, leukemia patients require more than 20 platelet transfusions over a six-month period.
  • Many critically ill patients require tissue-typed platelets (HLA matches). Regular donors are typed and used to meet these needs. The chance for an exact patient-donor match is 1 in 20,000. HLA-typed donors are encouraged to join the National Bone Marrow Registry.

When my boss was done with her donation . . .

. . . she came over to snitch my camera and take some snaps. It was cold in there, so I had pulled the blanket up over my nose. Now, usually I am not freezing, but I generally feel colder when I am sleepy, and I could barely keep my eyes open. Too little sleep and too early to rise. And, when you give platelets, something about the procedure makes your lips tingle.

Oooh, baby, tingling lips. I could go somewhere with that, but another day.

Anyway, here is the explanation from
Occasional side effects of the donation of platelets include tingling, chills, slight nausea, bruising, fatigue, and dizziness. Frequently while donating the lips may begin to tingle; a supply of calcium antacid tablets is usually kept close by because the anticoagulant works by binding to the calcium in the blood. Since calcium is used in the operation of the nervous system, nerve-ending-dense areas (such as the lips) are susceptible to the tingling. Usually chewing a handful of antacid tablets will raise calcium levels and relieve the tingling. Bruising may also occur. Fatigue and dizziness are generally not as common after donating platelets as it is after donating blood because the red blood cells are returned to the donor.
Nerve-ending-dense areas are susceptible to tingling? Now I'm wondering if the tingling strikes other areas and makes some people, uh, feel their, ahem, libido rise. Heh, heh.

And doncha know that I am gonna put a label of 'tingling lips' on this post to troll for some interesting Googlers.

So yeah, tingling & chills & breathing the frigid air in there. They give you a heating pad over your arm & blankets to burrow under:

Here is my setup:

My blood whizzes through the separator . . . .

. . . . and the end-product is a double (evidently I have a plethora of platelets) bag of yellow, life-giving goodness:

Oh, and part of the good time was messing with the gentleman 2 chairs down. I noticed that every once in a while, the channel on my TV would randomly change, and my nurse thought it might happen when that other guy changed his channel. So every minute or so, I would be sneaky & point my clicker at his TV and scroll through the channels. He would get a puzzled look on his face and change it back. The nurse & I were pitifully easy to amuse, 'cause we were laughing so hard we couldn't breathe. He finally figured it out and was very good-natured about it.

Everyone there is very nice and thanks you profusely for coming in. At the end, we get our thank-you parting gifts, one of which is always a $10 gift card from Panera. This is very exciting to me as it involves my favorite 4-letter 'f' words - free & food. Made me feel all warm & fuzzy toward Panera, until I found out that they were NOT donated by Panera out of the goodness of their hearts. The Red Cross bought them.

C'mon Panera. Be a man and do a good deed for your community. The Red Cross doesn't need to be spending that money as an inducement to donate. So, I sent Panera an e-mail when I got home. Maybe they'll read it.

Came home and promptly took a nap. It is now 6:00 and I am still sleepy and dragged out. Sleepy and dragged out to the point that I wish I could wear a catheter just so I wouldn't have to get up to go to the bathroom. Hey, I gave a double today, so indulge me, okay? I want to go to bed. Wait. I'm a grown-up, bedtime can be whenever I want it to be, so, goodnight . . ...... snore . . snort . . . . zzzzz . . . . ...........


Anonymous said...

You are such an AWESOME writer :-) loved it. I think you should send it to Sonja.....I think she plans to do some blurb on platelet donation in one of the many hundred newsletters she does! Yeah, I was pretty bummed about Panera too when I heard from Peggy that the Red Cross bought the gift cards. She said "it's OK though because you all are so good to us and we have a budget that we have to spend"....well, it shouldn't have to be on donors since we are there because we want to be and expect nothing in return. Let me know if you hear back from Panera. I'm ready for bed. See you, I mean Tuesday

Kathy said...

Hey Boss, Sonja reads it anyway. probably on the chance I'll put my foot in my mouth about the Home. Not really. She is a good one. But regardless, remember what trouble ensued the last time I sent a story to someone?

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Ooooh, Ticks, I feel like I need to send you a creme brulee, or a flan, or a cheesecake, or... or... something.

Kathy said...

Yum Rosie, any of those would be gratefully appreciated.

Russ said...

No monkey sex? Damn...

John said...

--Great post. Now my 'tingling lips' thing has been explained. --Don't ever forget to throw down the Tums..... I'm off for a nap --JB..

Kathy said...

JB - thank you for the kind words, and I hope you'll come back to read more. Next platelet day for us in October 2nd, so I will be posting abut it again.