Monday, June 17, 2013

Giving back, giving freely

Today was a day of selflessness.
I say that and it sounds so intense, but it actually took 2 hours of my time and I was on my back for the entire time. Nothing stressful, nothing that cost me any money, just my time and something my body easily provides, I gave platelets. 
Initially, I thought it was jut like giving blood, but oh what an experience it was.  Nothing like giving blood at all.  I mean yes, the process is similar but the technology and the process are very different.
I paid a visit to the Atlanta Blood Center's Marietta location.  It was closer than the Northside Hospital location and part of my community.
They are very friendly, ask you to respond to a series of questions to ensure that you're healthy and have not been exposed to contaminants that will impact the platelets.
I had a very lovely nurse, Mrs. Berline and she took very good care of me.  She answered all my questions and there were many as this was a new experience for me.  There are some requirements that determine if the body is able to provide a viable product that will be beneficial to others. In order to donate you can't be anemic, iron levels have to be higher than 12, your platelet count has to be a minimum of 150,000 because the process will take approximately 1/2.  Platelets are replenished quickly by the body so you're able to give more frequently. 
During today's visit there were many that didn't meet the requirements, I was the first to provide platelets. Yayy me!!
Before the process is started, they test to ensure all of the above. Then, they explain all the steps to you prior to doing anything.  Before and during the process they encourage you to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate (sound familiar) and to eat before you arrive.  They provide heated blankets, snacks and liquids throughout to maintain proper body functions. Of course once you're set up with the needle and machine operating -  there is absolutely no moving.
I could actually watch the machine as it draws the blood, separates out the platelets and then returns the blood back to the body.  I was definitely watching, as you can tell from the photos taken.  The machine has alarms that beep if you're not squeezing the stress ball which helps the blood to flow.  The blood flows better when its warm. This keep the blood vessels from constricting and all it to flow smoothly.
 Now, I've seen this on television, but never in person. it was awesome just to watch.
Each person is different and the amount they withdraw is based on the person and their body.

Now I realize that everyone is thinking about the contamination factors.  The answer to that is, there are individual kits that are opened for each person right in front of you.  It gets placed into the machine for each individual and then you watch as they clamp everything off once completed.  They are so very thorough and patient.  I had a hot flash and she brought the fan over to cool me off. :)  Then of course, I needed the blanket again.  We all laughed about it and continued the process as we were almost done.
 Today I gave 320,000 platelets +/- and there was very little wasted.Of course when it was time for a bandage, I had to choose between my two fave colors, PINK and Purple. :(  For today's mission, I choose the PINK.
Once it was all completed they ask you to rest for a short period of time, to enable you to walk and move around freely.  They inform you about possible light headiness, nausea, dizziness.  But I took a catnap -15 minutes and then I was ready to go.  Blood pressure was good and I was released and invited to come back with friends.
Who wants to go with me in August?
Cancer survivors are able to donate after 5 years remission. While I was there, in walked a lady with a PINK Hope Tee.  I gave her the thumbs up but we didn't speak very much.
I would almost compare it to a dialysis treatment but since I've never had one, I'm not 100% sure about that.
My hope is that this post gave you some information, a starting point, something to consider.
I realize that it isn't for everyone but if there is anyway that you can, please do.
It too, helps to save lives.

I am My Sister's Keeper

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