Apheresis

So, prior to actually being on vacation, I assumed that because I wasn’t going to have to go to school or clinical for five weeks, I would have all this time to write these long posts with flowing words and great subject matter. What I didn’t take into account as that life on vacation is boring and involves much sleep and computer game playing and very few blog posts, mainly because you have to do something besides making Christmas cards to write about. Sweet man and I did have one very interesting experience recently though, we went up to the Red Cross in Farmington CT and donated platelets and plasma. This type of donation is very different from a normal blood donation… well its easier to just describe the two processes separately. Oh, and if your squeamish, now would be a good time to stop reading because I’m going to talk about this in some detail.

Normally with a blood donation, you go to a gym or church somewhere and lay down on an uncomfortable cot and get a large needle in one arm. A collection bag hangs below your cot and you sit for about 10-20 minutes while your blood pressure fills the bag. I, and other fair haired people, usually feel worst with this becuase we are incredibly suseptable to loosing the red blood cells which provide the oxygen to your body. At the end of this process some nice little old ladies, or nuns, give you some juice and cookies and you go home.

Apheresis is a much larger process, so be prepared to donate your time too. It is usually only done at Red Cross centers becuase the machine needed is rather large. You are placed on a nice recliner with a hot pad under you and blankets over you. The also provide a movie of your choice to keep you company which is a wonderful distraction. A nurse inserts an “in” needle in one arm and an “out” needle in the other, and attaches this to a pump to pull the blood out of you and then then through a centerfuge and then returns the whole red blood cells back to your body. Unlike with normal donation, I felt fine afterwards, especially becuase instead of just cookies they give you cookies, chips, juice, coffee, soup, sandwiches and fruit. I mean, donating is all about the perks, right? I ended up having a low platelet count that morning, so I was having some issues donating which was very frustrating but I still donated a single serving of platelets. These need to be used withing five days, and will usually go to cancer patients who need them, which I think is a wonderful holliday gift.

The Red Cross told us that during the holiday season people who normally donate are on vacation or too busy to come in, so they are very short on all types of blood productions, which is bad when ice, snow, and drunk driving around New Years is factored in. If you have never donated, I sugest you do it once, so that if you are hurt and need blood products they will be there for you. How can you expect to recive if you do not give. If you do normally donate, bring a friend. I always sign up Sweet Man (with his permission) when I go so that we can do something special together (it does wonders for a relationship!). If you have kids and don’t think you will have the time, ask your babysitter if she will donate two hours of her time so that you can donate. She is probably too young to do it herself, and it may make her feel good to know she is helping three people live this Christmas season. (And you’ll win two free hours of kid free time WITH cookies!) Go do something good for other people.

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