I donated Platelet Pheresis for the first time a couple weeks ago at the DeGraff Memorial Hospital Neighborhood Donation Center. Actually, it was my first time donating anything. I had always wanted to donate but I am REALLY scared of needles. I don’t mind once the needle is in, but the initial “needle prick” is terrifying to me. I knew I needed to face my fear so I decided to donate platelets, which is about a 2 hour long process. I wanted to donate platelets first because I knew if I could get through that, I could donate whole blood which is only about a 10 minute draw. So I prepared myself. I am lactose intolerant and reactions are higher in calcium-deficient people so I braved a milkshake the night before and drank lots of fluids the morning of my donation. I was worried about a lot of things; my iron would be too low, I would get a reaction, the needle would really hurt, etc.
Like I usually do, I got myself all worked up for no reason. As soon I walked into the Donation Center, I was very reassured. I explained that this was my first time donating anything and the staff was wonderful; explaining the process, staying with me the entire time, and always making sure I was comfortable. I had brought my boyfriend along for moral support and they let him sit a little ways away from me. As I donated we watched The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. They knew I was scared of the needle going in so they had me look away as they put it in my arm. I felt a little pinch but nothing enough to even mention. I also learned a lot about Pheresis donation that I didn’t know before.
There are seven cycles in a Pheresis donation. They only use one arm but it’s a double needle. So each cycle has two parts. There is the draw and the return. The draw takes your blood out and the return gives you back your plasma, red blood cells, and something called saline. I did great during the draw but during the returns I did get a bit nauseous. The staff made me promise that I wouldn’t “power through” and I would stop and let them know if I wasn’t feeling well. They gave me a couple of Tums to help with my calcium-deficiency and I felt better.
I was always so scared that if I donated I wouldn’t feel well or the needle would be too much, so I had never even tried. Tons of things can happen to you but you need to take risks to get rewards. After I donated, I felt amazing. I was so proud I called my mom and told her I just helped to save someone and my platelets might go to someone with cancer, which was really meaningful for me. The needle wasn’t even that big of a deal. It was a second of discomfort to save someone. I just kept telling myself that people need this to survive and I am able to give it to them. I would suggest that everyone try to donate at least once and just see how it goes. After all, aren’t new experiences what life is all about?