Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Platelets...I Give Mine Away

For the twelfth time this year I donated platelets at the blood bank. Here's why. During my Enron days I was flush with cash and used it to support my favorite cause, a woman's right to choose, AKA Planned Parenthood. Those days came to an end rather abruptly and my monetary donations dwindled.

Then Kerry was diagnosed with a platelet disorder. His body sees them as the enemy and destroys them. Not good if you get cut or need surgery. Platelets stop you from bleeding to death. No it's not hemophilia. That's a genetic disorder. His is an auto-immune disorder. Don't know when it started but he has it, and the odds of it going away are not good. Once a quarter he is tested. His platelet count runs around 40,000-50,000. Normal is 250,000 to 400,00.

So combine the two things: my lack of money and his disease, and you come up with a way for me to make donations from my body without spending a dime. You can write off the mileage to the blood bank on your taxes. It's better for women to donate platelets than whole blood. When women donate whole blood it takes long time for our hematocrit (ratio of red blood cells to blood volume) to get back to 38. After I had donated blood a couple of times the blood bank suggested donating platelets as a way to be a regular donor. Platelets are used for people like Kerry, for burn victims and cancer patients.

Each time I go in I do a double, 2 pints. It take about 80 minutes. The machine that does it is very cool. First it takes some blood out, runs it through a filter and captures the platelets, then the blood is returned to my body. This goes on the entire time. When the blood goes back into your body it's been cooled just by being out of your body.

So far I've donated 6 gallons and 3 pints. They make a big deal out of the 6 gallons, but 10 gallons is even a bigger deal. The people at the blood bank are incredibly nice. You can watch a movie or read or whatever. Today I fell asleep, which is not good. You have to squeeze a rubber ball to keep the blood flowing. They watch you closely when you are doing this. All of a sudden today someone touched my hand containing the rubber ball. She then spent the next 30 minutes talking to me to make sure I didn't fall asleep again. I swear I was squeezing the ball. She seemed to know better. Once you finish donating then you go to the snack bar and have two cups of juice and a snack. Rehydrating is very important.

So, if you want to really help a lot of people, go to your nearest blood bank and be tested for your platelet level. If you have a lot, then start giving them away. My level is 350,000. Kerry had a platelet infusion when he first got his disorder. The cost was $48,000. So you can see that platelets are very valuable. You can give every three days as long as your hematocrit level stays above 38. I go in every two weeks.

Try it, you might feel really good afterward. I know I do. Plus you get to see what platelets look like.

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