Here’s Wikipedia’s definition of this process if you’re not familiar with it. Plateletpheresis is the process of collecting platelets, the components of blood that are involved in blood clotting. It can be a life-saving procedure in preventing or treating serious complications from bleeding and hemorrhage in patients who have disorders manifesting in low platelet count or platelet dysfunction.
Platelet transfusions are traditionally given to those undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia, those with aplastic anemia, AIDS, hypersplenism, ITP, sepsis, DIC, bone marrow transplant, radiation treatment, organ transplant or surgeries such as cardiopulmonary bypass.
Pheresis (pronounced as fur-ee-sis) is a special kind of blood donation by which specific components of the blood can be separated. It came from a Greek word meaning 'to take away' or 'separate'. By this method, the blood components like plasma, erythrocytes, platelets, granulocytes and agranulocytes can be separated. The pheresis is done using a machine called a cell separator. The separation is based on density gradient centrifugation. The separated components are collected in separate vials or specialized polythene bags in the machine.
Your body can replenish your platelets in 24 hours, so you could donate everyday but your “wounds” from the needles do not heal that quickly so you are only allowed to donate every 2 weeks. I usually go once a month. I went today.
Yesterday I decided to take my camera so I can document how this is completed and I want to put it in my “All About Me” scrapbook. I was excited to find a nurse that is an excellent photographer and didn’t mind getting some close up pictures. But would you believe this turned out to be my most unpleasant experience since I started donating several years ago – lol. Now I had a VERY BAD experience donating blood about 20 years ago but that’s a different story and it didn’t stop me. Today wasn’t nearly as bad.
I think donating blood or platelets is a simple way for me to give to my community. I remember my Dad coming home with his arm wrapped from donating blood. I thought it was so heroic of him. When I started working after college my company supported blood donation and would give us time off work to do it, so I started. I’ve been giving blood and now platelets for 20 years (I took a 6 year hiatus while trying to get pregnant).
So all that said, if you have any aversion to needles DO NOT continue reading and definitely do not page down to the next post because you will not like the pictures.
The blood is taken from my left arm and I usually have the red cells put back in through my right hand. Now I have a very high platelet count and they usually get two or three doses from me. My nurse, Vickie, asks if I can do three today. I say yes, so she sets up the machine for three.
She places the needle in my had as usual and moves on to my left arm. She misses my vein – that has happened before so no big deal. She asks another nurse, Eva, to come try to correct it. Now if you’re not aware they cannot remove the needle they just have to “feel” for a vein with it. Sometimes that is painful and sometimes not. It wasn’t today as she was “finding” the vein but when she found it and placed the needle in it hurt some. That also happens sometimes and it stops. It did but still felt sore so I figured I was bruised (which also happens sometimes).
Vicki goes back to my hand to open up the tube for the return. Well, the back of my hand is a little swollen so the she tells Eva to hold on. This one has slipped and we need to do another. Now I’ve never had this happen, but I think I was moving it more than I usually do because I was focusing on my left arm and the nurse, Raven, taking pictures for me. Vicki and Eva start looking at my arm to find another good place. I have a very nice vein on my forearm so they decide to use it but neither of them like sticking that spot so they call Susan over to do it – lol. She does a great job and I don’t feel a thing.
Well, my left arm is still bothering me but not bad so I don’t say anything. Everything is looking good and I start watching Good Morning America. Every so often I have a sharp pain in my left arm at the needle site and there is lots of pressure from the blood pressure cup on my arm. All the nurses keep coming to check on me and I tell each one that it’s very uncomfortable and they all adjust it one way or another but never release the cup pressure. I finally ask one to release it and she does a little but it didn’t help. I finally ask one how much I’ve given and I’m close to two doses. I told her I didn’t think I could handle three today. The discomfort is continuing and getting worse. So after I’m sure there is 2 doses I ask Raven to take me off and she does.
My arm is still sore so I’m sure it is bruised and that was contributing to the discomfort plus they did have the cup tighter than I remember. Next time I’ll insist they loosen it more if I’m hurting.
When Raven goes to my right arm to wrap it we notice my hand is still swollen so ice is taped to it – lol. It’s very funny looking. People probably think I’ve beat myself up – lol.
5 months ago