Friday afternoon I did something I’ve wanted to do for a reallllly long time… I donated platelets.
I was a sophomore in college when I donated blood for the first time. Despite a few technical difficulties afterwards (ask me about it sometime if you want a laugh), I was hooked on donating. It felt like I was doing something so tangible in order to help someone in need. I donated again junior and senior year at the annual blood drives. After my trip to Peru last summer (that you can read about in various posts here), I couldn’t donate for a year… and I seriously was so angry. I wanted to donate blood & platelets so badly. Finally when June 8th rolled around this year, I was eligible to donate again. Of course things kept coming up and finding time to donate never fit into my schedule. Until last Friday.
Friday I went to UNC’s Cancer Hospital to donate platelets for the first time.
I can’t say enough good things about the staff, process, or experience itself… it was a great first platelets donation.
I got to watch half of a movie (Safe House), eat a snack, drink a Ginger Ale, look out the windows down on UNC’s booming hospitals, and have warm blankets thrown across my shivering body. (feeling cold is of the one side-effects during donation)
The entire process took about two hours from the time I walked in the doors until the time I walked out. No time at all. I mean really- two hours to donate something that could save someone’s life? Totally worth it!
Donating platelets is different than regular blood donations…
-after giving blood, you might experience some weakness as the body has been depleted of some of its blood (usually 1 pint out of ten that the body holds) and can take your body 2+ weeks to return to normal. After donating platelets, you probably won’t be able to tell much of a difference in your body because some of blood components have been returned into your bloodstream, and it only takes 2-4 days to fully recover from apheresis.
-donating blood takes 10 – 2o minutes, whereas donating platelets takes anywhere from 1 – 3 hours… it depends on your body and blood! (It took me 85minutes once I got plugged into the machine)
-you can donate whole blood every 56 days, but you can donate platelets 2x a week and up to 24 times a year.
Before donating I was nervous & excited. During it I was concentrated and contemplative. Afterwards I was exhausted, yet energetic and excited.
I hung out for a while in the room after they unplugged me and bandaged me up… I felt a little light-headed and tired. I talked with one of the workers, and he applauded my willingness and enthusiasm for donating. He was so sweet and such a blessing. We were discussing how donating makes you feel good about doing something that not necessarily anyone will know about (unless you blog about it… oops…) He said, “Well there are a few people who know- us, you, and God. He is proud of you for doing something for others.” Those words made me smile.
I highly recommend the UNC Donation Center for anyone in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area!
After I felt like I could safely walk out and head downstairs, I thanked everyone and promised to be back soon. I headed straight to Starbucks in the hospital (seriously, UNC Hospital has one of the nicest Starbucks I’ve been to! And the staff is great too!) for some much-needed caffeine. I grabbed my coffee frappuccino and headed outside to warm up in the 90-degree temperatures.
I chose a table in the middle of the courtyard and sat down. I pulled out my notebook and began to jot down little thoughts and thanks from the past few hours:
:: the kind people who understand the importance of donating
:: the feel of the sunshine warming my chilly body and energizing me even more
:: watching the little girl in the wheelchair rolling herself around, then ditching the wheelchair to chase a bird around on her wobbly legs
:: wind chimes dancing in the trees and making music
:: the cute little dinosaurs on my lime green arm wrap
:: friendly faces smiling because of the excitement that is FRIDAY
I seemed to find beauty in everything Friday afternoon… it was impossible not to! After you do something good you just feel good. Does anyone else know the feeling?
I donated platelets on Friday for the first time and I plan on doing it as often as I can! I highly encourage donating to anyone healthy & able! You won’t regret it. You might even save a life by giving up a few hours out of your schedule. If you ever want to join me at UNC, let me know! 🙂
If you have any questions about the donation process of blood or platelets, ask me- I’ll be more than happy to answer them!
Fact: Currently only 3 out of every 100 people in America donate blood. via Are you one of those 3???
Disclaimer:: I don’t want to sound bragadocious in this post… like “oh look at what I did.” That’s not what I want to get across to you! I simply want to stress the importance of giving (if you can) and enlighten you on the process!