Platelet Donation Update

Apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis): A special kind of blood donation that allows a donor to give a specific blood component, such as platelets. During the apheresis procedure, all but the needed blood component is returned to the donor.

Yep… I finally was able to donate yesterday at the RIGHT hospital. If you don’t know the story, check it out here…. Guess what? When I walked in there, however, the security guard told me that she didn’t have any notification that someone was donating last night. I almost hit the roof again, but I said there must have been a mistake. So she made a phone call and whoever was at the other end of the line informed here that they didn’t know anything about it either, then she just looked at me. I said, “Look, this is the second time that this has happened to me.” In a way, that was a little fib (check out why here); but I wasn’t leaving that hospital until I got in, so she sent me down to the lab and said that they would know there.

Great, my foot was in through the door. I made it to the blood “lab”, which was just a blood drawing station. I blurted out to the first guy I saw that I had an appointment to donate platelets and that the woman at the security desk said that she didn’t have any information on it. He told me that she didn’t have the right information. I said that “she called someone”, to which he replied that she called the wrong people. Ugh… He asked for my name, then checked his schedule and said that I was at the right place…. yea! So, sat down and filled out the forms and was interviewed right away.

As a side note, they do this by appointment only, so you are taken right away and everything happens very quick, though they were totally polite, informative and did not give the impression of rushing things. Next, my blood got tested; which tells them iron level, platelet level, other stuff but I don’t remember. I sat down on the very comfortable couch and the guy asked me how much I weighed. I said, “WHAT?” Ha, I hadn’t expected that. I was told that they take the height and weight of the donor, which will tell them exactly how much of a donation I can make and what components they can take. I’ll just leave the part out here because, well, lets just say for confidentiality reasons. He informed me that I could make a triple donation, which means that my total donation of platelets could be given to three people. It was totally up to me as to what I wanted to do, give platelets, whole blood, plasma, or red cells. I said, “Give me the works, we’ll go for the triple platelets”.

I found this whole process very interesting. Did you know that your platelets can be given to anyone? Blood type doesn’t matter. I asked the tech if I could knit while doing this, but he said “no” because I had to keep squeezing a squeeze ball while the machine was drawing out my blood…. shucks! I also brought a book and attempted to read, but that proved impossible because I could not really turn the pages, so I just talked with the blood man and watched some TV. Getting back: He familiarized me with the machine. He told me to squeeze the ball on the draw, then on the return (of the blood to my body) I needed to stop squeezing. The blood goes in, then the blood is separated, the platelets go into a blood bag and the rest of the blood comes back to me. How cool. I watched this happening as a little clear plastic box shows out of the machine and I could see the blood coming in and emptying out as it came back to me.

Oh, I was a “quickie”. Personally, I love quickies! Apparently, 71 minutes for a triple donation is pretty quick. In the beginning, he actually told me the time it would take for each type of donation that I was able to give. How cool is that? Anyway, there are a few things you guys should know. In addition to the side effects you can experience from giving whole blood, there are other side effects when giving platelets. First, they treat the blood with “citrate” to stop it from coagulating. You can experience a tingly feeling on your lips and head, which I felt almost immediately. This has something to do with calcium, so they give you Tums to counteract the effect, but it didn’t help me too much. This was okay, though, because it’s no big deal. Then I started to feel dizzy and nauseous… well not nauseous, but my whole body was something. Vibrating? I don’t know, but lets just say that I was queasy, but not exactly sick to my stomach. I felt light headed, too. I never had this when giving whole blood, so for me, it’s significant…. but still, no big deal. Maybe I’m just a trusting person and I trusted these guys? Don’t know… but I was just so happy to be doing something worthwhile that I was absolutely giddy throughout the whole thing, joking and kidding around. They might have thought that I was drunk or high or something but hey, they tested my blood, right? I told them that I had a toddler at home and this was a vacation for me!

All in all, no problemo and I’ll do it again next month. Yeah, with platelets, you can give them once a month. They get mostly replenished in 24 hours. I did, however, underestimate the toll this procedure took on me. I was planning on spending the rest of the night out, hitting the stores, or coffee shop, or something. Well, when it was over, I just wanted to get home and get into bed. I felt very tired, very drained. So I got home and went to bed early. This morning, the nausea was gone, but I had to take a nap after breakfast, then again in the afternoon, though Little Drake didn’t let me sleep. I just need to eat well, get iron in my system and calcium. I have supplements to take and I bought calcium fortified OJ today, so I’m set to go.

I never realized how much of a special gift, platelets are. Without a platelet donation, it takes 6 donations of whole blood to get 1 donation of platelets. So if someone can give platelets, it saves 6 donations of whole blood. Oh, better explained below:

Why is Blood Separated?
Different patients need different types of blood components, depending on their illness or injury. After you donate whole blood, the unit is separated into platelets, red cells, and plasma in our laboratory. Only two tablespoons of platelets are collected from a whole blood donation. Six whole blood donations must be separated and pooled to provide a single platelet transfusion. However, one apheresis donation provides enough platelets for one complete transfusion…that is six times the amount collected from a whole blood donation.

Who Needs Platelets?
Many lifesaving medical treatments require platelet transfusions. Cancer patients, those receiving organ or bone marrow transplants, victims of traumatic injuries, and patients undergoing open heart surgery require platelet transfusions to survive. Because platelets can be stored for only five (5) days, the need for platelet donations is vast and continuous. The platelet donation process is called an Apheresis donation.

This is a link for the American Red Cross. This has got to be the easiest thing one can do to help others out there. Some of us cannot donate money, but giving blood is free, giving platelets is free, too!

And you get juice and cookies after!


About dragonmommie

I am a wife and mother of an amazing eight year old boy. When school starts, I don the hat of “advocate”. This is very new to me and so, like everything else in my life right now, a necessary transition. I can see already that I will be honing my communication skills as well as sharpening my assertiveness. I am married to an amazing man, who, spoils me to no end. Not in a material way... NO I'm wrong. When he can, he does spoil me materially as he is well acquainted with my infatuation and love all electronic gadgets. I am a self professed EGG, “Electronic Gadget Groupie.” The most important way he spoils me is with taking over attending to our son's needs. My eye has always been caught by sparkly things, the beautiful, and the unique.

Posted on Tuesday, November 21, 2006 ~, in Apheresis, Platelet Donation. Bookmark the permalink. 53 Comments.

  1. Today I gave platelets for the first time and experienced the same “tingling” and “vibrating” sensations that you described. I hated it and was so tempted to ask them to stop the machine and let me off!! I actually eat 7 tums during the two hours it took to take my single unit. The crazy thing is, I signed up to do it again in 3 weeks. But, I’m going to eat a calcium-rich diet between now and then. However, the friend I went with had no problems at all with her donation and she gave two units in the amount of time it took for me to give one.

    With all that said, I want to thank you for donating platelets, for I have a very personal reason to encourage people to donate any blood products. This past January my 19 year old son was diagnosed with leukemia. We lost track of how many bags of platelets, plasma, and packed red blood cells he used. He relapsed in June and had a bone marrow transplant in August. While waiting to recover from the transplant he had daily transfusions of all blood products, but mostly platelets. It grieves me to say that he died in September due to complications after the transplant.

    And now it has taken me 3 months to get myself back to the same clinic where he was initially diagnosed and donate platelets. I am so grateful to people like you, who have given this life-saving gift and would encourage anyone else who reads this to please consider giving blood. The need is greater than you can ever imagine. Thank you for your gift.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Kelly. I am posting your comment right now, as a post, on my blog so that people will see it when they search and find my blog.

  3. i know this blog post is old, but i donated platelets for the first time this past saturday (07/19/2008).

    i gave one unit and i was in the chair for 45 minutes. i plan on going every two weeks, but would go once a week if they let me.


  4. Dan… thanks for writing your comments. The time and amount you give will probably fluctuate each time you go. They test your blood in the beginning and they put those results into the machine and it does all the calculations and will say how much you can donate and how fast it will be for each unit you’re able to give.

    Thanks so much for becoming a platelet donor!

  5. Hello again, glad you are keeping up this post about platelets… I love being a platelet donor, although it hasn’t worked for me for the last several weeks…low iron count plus a breakup of a 2 and 1/2 year relationship equals stress and stress causes low iron count…. I will keep on trying. This is a good cause everyone! Don’t let setbacks get you down.
    Thanks. And your advice helped too.

  6. I donated platelets for the 2nd time. The experience was the same as the first (tingly lips, the TUMs, etc.) but this time, my platelets worked too good and I clotted at the needle in the “drawing arm”. They had to stop after 1 hour instead of the normal 2 hour time period. I managed to make 1 unit, so it was fine … the donation was not wasted. At our donation center (in St. Paul Minnesota), they have a cabinet full of movie DVD’s. They put a portable DVD player on your lap with headphones.

    This type of donation is very important, and I recommend anyone that can donate platelets, to do so. The whole procedure can actually take 3 hours of your time … half hour to do the question thing at the beginning, the prep time, 2 hour machine time, and the post-donation time, including the pampering you get at the end – juice, cookies, etc.

    The usually offer some incentives, like cool t-shirts, $5 gas cards, pins, gift certificates, etc. But knowing that the donation is used for special life-threatening events and operations, makes me feel sort of special to be a part of it.

  7. Max… Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Last time I donated, the pressure on the return increased to the point of setting off the alarm. It scared me a little, but the nurse quickly accommodated it by setting the machine to work slower. It increased the time I had to sit there, but that was nothing. I’m always so glad to do something on my own; and when I donate, I set aside as much time as I need. Now that my son is in school, I’m going to start making appointments again because my availability has changed for the better.

  8. Hello again! I have had some success in donating platelets, but it’s usually the iron count that has been causing me problems…. I almost always need a pressure cuff, and I only donate on the left arm because the right arm always had clotting issues. Back in 1990 they used to to do the two-armed platelet donation process. The NY Blood Center has a platelet donation program and since they opened a center back in the area which I lived I have been trying to go regularly. They are great there and always made me feel welcome since I don’t like needles.
    By the way, I got engaged December 5, 2008!

    • Hey Sydney… Congrats on your engagement. Is your betrothed a blood donor? I always liked the fact that my DH was a blood donor before we got together… he got a certificate for being a Two Gallon Blood Donor! It was one of the things we’d do together on a date! Ha… cheap one and free juice and cookies. What I really meant to say is that another donor has a deeper appreciation and understanding when it comes to donating blood or platelets or whatever. Before my son started school, it was tough getting an appointment without making sure that hubby was staying home to be with him. Now that he’s working, it’s still a little difficult getting appointments, but not because of MY schedule. They are so booked up that I can’t get in until Jan. If I want to travel, it can be easier, but that defeats my purpose because if I have to commute a long way, my temperature goes up and I get rejected. I’m not traveling like that just to get rejected…. my temp would REALLY skyrocket if that should happen.

      Oh, try eating more raisins! Great for iron levels… Last time DH gave blood, his count was a 14… pretty good. I asked him about it and he says it’s the raisins… get this… he’s not really a meat eater! Tuna fish once a week… he’s not really a vegetable eater, except for canned stuff… >bleah< Go figure!

  9. Well thanks for the info on plasma donation. I was looking it up because I am a triple donor and they keep begging me to come back. I am so tired and miserable I considered quitting. Now I understand what that actually means and also that you had the same experience of just crawling into bed afterwards. Well, I guess I will just keep pushing on.
    Thanks again!

    • Hi Michelle… Thanks for writing. On my end, I have a hard time getting an appointment because they’re only at my hospital one day a week. But, if you are feeling miserable and tired, may I suggest just going when you feel up to it; anything so that you don’t quit altogether. Another option is giving double or single donations in between the triples so that maybe donating will take less out of you. Just tell them that you are not up to a triple. They’re usually asking me all through the process how I’m feeling and if I want to go on. I am glad that you wrote here because you have motivated me to give it another try making an appointment, though right now I have a cold.

  10. Hi, sorry I haven’t written awhile…my fiance is a blood donor also. We haven’t donated together yet but hope to in the future. My iron levels just haven’t been up to par – doing the raisin and iron pill routine. I have been told to check with a doctor first about the iron pills. I think it is due to stress and the fact the wedding will be June 27, 2009 (4 months away!) and this hasn’t sunk it yet. We’ve been running around just trying to plan everything. Some places may do plasma donations at certain times only. Based on my levels, I have been allowed only to do double donations and sometimes only single (that’s when I didn’t space out my donations)…. wish me luck for the next couple months!

    • Hi Sydney… First off, I want to comment about this: “Based on my levels, I have been allowed only to do double donations and sometimes only single (that’s when I didn’t space out my donations)….” Don’t think that you MUST produce triple donations every time. A double is great… and so are the single donations. The impression I got was that you were disappointed about not being allowed to donate as much as you wanted. Even if one person can get your platelets, it’s a wonderful thing. Please also remember that you simply cannot control, and have no way of knowing how much you can give until they do their “magic” and run it through the machine. Also, be aware that there are other factors that go into the size of your donation… one of which, I believe, is your weight. Next time you go, ask the tech some questions about that. Stress about your upcoming wedding can definitely be a factor, as well. Again, you can’t control that.

      edited to add: I’ve edited the content of the paragraph above. When I first read the quoted text, the word “allowed” escaped me and my impression was that you were feeling down and disappointed with yourself. I read it a second time and see what a difference missing that word as made on my perception of your comment.

      Ha… I had the same visions of donating with my spouse, like on a date or something! The reality now is that someone has to watch our son while the other donates, so bonding while we both have our blood leached from us is not in the cards right now. Congrats on your wedding. Having something like this in common is a great thing for both of you… also great because you each can have that ingrained understanding about the other when it comes to donating blood. No obligatory explanations about why you do it, and no wondering if the other person is going to be annoyed at having to share you.

      Good Luck and thanks for being a concerned and loyal platelet donor!

      • Hi Debbie:
        Thanks for all your kind comments…first of all I wanted to wish you a belated Happy Birthday! the last several months flew by quickly… try planning a wedding in less than 6 months…but we did it! Kept missing the local blood drives…and my iron levels were low. I’ve learned to take it easy and not stress myself regarding the donations – it’s a good cause and it’s totally worth the effort! The local area is asking for blood/platelet donations because of the summer shortage so my hubby & I are going to do apheresis tomorrow 🙂 Have a great summer everyone! We’re off to the local Renaissance Fair in NY on August 1.

  11. I donated whole blood for about 30 years and just started platelets about June of 2008. I had the extra time, ’cause I’m unemployed 😦

    So, I live in Tampa and under Florida Blood Services rules you can donate platelets every two weeks. I’m blessed with abundant platelets, so they get a ‘triple’ from me every two weeks. The only issue I ever have is the tingling – oh, and getting cold during donation – but they have blankets for that 😉

    I encourage everyone to donate blood one way or another. It’s about as selfless an act as you can manage.


  12. When I became unemployed, was the exact time I started giving platelets. I also give triple donations, but my only problem is with scheduling in my area. I have to travel under pressure and it makes my temperature go up, then they don’t want to take me. They think that I’m sick. One time I managed to convince them that I was not sick, and they took me… otherwise, I was rejected, then I had to go home disappointed and a bit annoyed. By “under pressure”, I mean traveling in rush hour traffic with feeling the pressure of needing to get there on time as I did have to wait for DH to get home so that I could leave. They are only at a given location, one, maybe two days a week. Most times I can’t even get a reasonable appointment date without it being less than a month away. Anyway, we work with what we’ve got, right?

  13. This iron problem must be contagious. What’s Sydney’s raisin and iron routine? Anyone know? I need to try that. I called the blood center to see exactly what was being measured so that I could try to address it. They said hemoglobin. I understand the hemoglobin carries iron, but I’m not sure if increasing iron would affect low hemoglobin. I probably am just not understanding the mechanism. Anyway, I also was not sure what would be the best way to address it. Most of the time, you see iron included in a multi-vitamin. But I am already taking calcium. I don’t want to overload anything.

    • Thanks for writing, Michelle… All that I’ve been going by is trying to do what they tell me… and that is to get iron. I don’t try to rely on supplements. They have told me to get my iron from red meat… steak being the best choice…. lol… I’ve got no problem with that. Also, a few days before, I start eating veggies with high iron content such as fresh spinach. I love it raw, in salad, and when I cook it, only steam it enough to go limp, but still bright green. I also love asparagus, but not sure if that has iron…. Nope, just checked- no iron to speak of, but it’s still good for ya and I love it!

      • Sydney…. Thanks for the birthday wishes! It was quiet this year, but that was nice, too. We did go out for breakfast, and I LOVE eating breakfast out. Try veggies with high iron content… like spinach! I love it raw, and only steam it as much as I have to… I stop at it’s brightest green. Also, I’ve been experimenting with a spinach salad, adding different ingredients. I like to mix baby spinach greens with arugula, shredded carrots, red cabbage, mandarin orange slices, nuts, whatever. I like drizzling raspberry vinaigrette dressing on it, low cal, of course…. HA. I’ve got to write this recipe down and post it… so good.

        Don’t fret over missing blood drives. There will always be blood drives. So glad you managed planning your wedding. We did planned ours in under six month, too. Unbelievable stress, so you might not have been able donate anyway. Some reading would have been off and it’s likely that you could have been rejected anyway… and I hate that. YEAH! Get your hubby involved. It’s great to be able to do something so worthwhile together.

    • I just fall below the hemoglobin level required to donate… I eat lots of raisins, red meat (steak), spinach, brocoli, prunes, figs and apricots at least several days before donating to raise my hemoglobin levels. You should check with your doctor before taking any extra supplements, such as calcium or iron, because you do not want to overload on anything. Also getting enough sleep and relaxing does help! Even when doing all this, it depends on nature as well – sometimes I just have to come back another time to donate!

      • Well, whatever I did this week worked…my hemoglobin level was high enough to donate…yay! Ate enough raisin and figs…the steak also helped. I’m going to try your spinach recipe because it sounds so good…but I read somewhere that even though spinach is recommended for iron, it is also an iron absorption inhibitor. I have a nice black and blue mark because they could NOT find the vein and had to move the needle around…This isn’t usually the case in most people (I am one of the few who have “rolling veins” which seem to run away when they put the needle in my arm. Successful donation has made my weekend great so far! How’s your husband and son doing? Wish you success on your future donations!

  14. I donate fairly regularly (about 6-8 times per year). I started donating blood a few months after 9/11, and started with platelet donations almost 2 years ago now.

    Platelet levels vary wildly between people, some folks have high enough levels to donate 3 units, others can only do one or two. The time it takes to do a donation is also affected by platelet levels, the higher the level the faster it will go. And like you saw, sometimes they can’t set the machine to push fluid as fast as usual. My longest session has been about 110 minutes for two units (not including the prep time).

    One thing I didn’t see you talk about is making sure that you’re hydrated properly before donating. If you’re dehydrated, it’s harder to stick the vein. My most difficult donations have been ones where I did not drink water the morning of the donation.

    My understanding is that it can also lead to feelings of nausea (when I was naseous once, the nurse boosted me a with a bit of saline into the IV line to make it go away). So drink an extra glass of water morning and night on the day before a donation.

    I’d love to donate more often, but I almost always bruise on one arm or the other. So I have to wait an extra week or two between donations for it to go away.

    • Thanks for the comment, Wuphon’s Reach! I never made that connection between donating platelets and being properly hydrated. Don’t know why because it makes a lot of sense. Our bodies need water for almost everything to work right. I am really kicking myself now because I’m always making sure I get enough water and, let me tell you, it’s a pain in the neck sometimes. Every single time I don’t get enough water some bodily system or another goes out of whack. We always hear about making sure to drink enough water after, but not before… or at least, it got past me.

      Thanks again!

  15. I’ve been looking up side-effects to see if there were any long-term ones. Something is just not right with me right now and I want to rule things out. I’ve been able to donate triples frequently, if I keep my iron high enough. They said I wouldn’t be able to do too many triples in a row, but it depended on my platelet count and it seems to stay up there. I donated 20 times last year and wondered if something in the solution was affecting me oddly.

    • I’m not sure how long the citrate (I think that is what it is) stays in the body. I do know that they check every time as to how much you can give and how long it will take. I’ll ask them next time I have an appointment, though I just gave so it will be awhile.

      Hope you find out one way or another about your feelings of “unrightness” in your body. Thanks for commenting!

  16. I gave platelets for the first time this month. I gave for four weeks in a row (NY Blood Center allows platelet donations once a week).

    The first donation was the worst of the four. I gave a double, and for over an hour after the donation I felt great…but after I got home, my head felt very funny and I felt exhausted. There’s no way to describe it, almost like I had lost something in my head. Not dizzy, not light-headed; it was a very strange feeling. I also got cold during the donation, but that wasn’t much of a problem.

    At any rate, after the first donation, I gave a single the following week, followed by two weeks of triples, and never had the same problem again. I suspect it had something to do with drinking milk, but I cannot confirm this.

    As far as staying hydrated, a note of caution: you must sit in this chair with a needle in your arm for over an hour, possibly over an hour and a half…so going to the bathroom is out of the question. From personal experience, drinking water just before the start of a donation might not be a good idea (it’s a better idea when you’re nearing the end of the donation).

    • Daniel… Thanks for writing about your experiences. I pretty much had the same thing happen after my first donation. After I got out of there, I felt good so I decided do a little side trip on the way home to a local store. That’s when it hit me and I went home to bed. I had plans for my night too… lol… I was supposed to spend the night out with the ladies… forget it!

      You are absolutely correct, though, about limiting your water intake before the donation. Last time I was in the chair, it was getting up to 160 minutes. That’s a long time for me to have to wait, so I always make sure I limit myself and also I go to the bathroom right before I have to sit down.

      Not sure if drinking milk has anything to do with getting sick, but it’s interesting. I am more apt to think it’s got to do with your body’s reaction to the citrate they put in the solution. I know that it makes the area around your mouth get all tingly. If that happens, ask for Tums.

      I’ve never thought about asking for water during a donation. If I get thirsty next time, I’ll ask for some.

      • I think my biggest problem with the first donation was not eating enough before going to donate. My first triple happened two weeks later, less than an hour after downing a BK Whopper Value menu. The nurse knew immediately that I was wired with sugar, sodium and caffeine (my normal BP is 120 over 75…it was 140 over 100, pulse was around 110, normal is 80 for me). Junk food is bad for you, but apparently it’s good for platelet donation. (disclaimer: although I gave a triple that day, I will probably think twice about eating fast food in the future after seeing those alarming kinds of numbers…very scary).

      • That’s quite possible… plus you really need to eat more protein than usual. I am diabetic and I was told that giving platelets brings down your sugar level. It’s the only time I can have sugar and it will be good for me. In the days before a donation, like this week, I try to concentrate on meat protein- red meat, and extra fluids. Of course fresh veggies… but then, I do this all the time, except for the protein part. Usually, I get my protein from dairy and beans. I’m not a vegetarian, but seem to benefit more eating this way.

  17. Just donated platelets for the first time yesterday. It went great they got a double unit off me in about 100 minutes. Only problem was that as I finished I realized I had locked my keys in my car. The valet at the hospital graciously tried to help me pick the lock on my car for about 45 minutes (in the blazing hot Utah July sun might I add). Well I started to feel dizzy so I sat down at the curb and another valet suggested I go back into the hospital where it would be cooler. As I got to the door of the hospital I passed out cold. I’ve never passed out in my life so I was quite surprised to wake up and not know where I was. This all would have been no big deal but when I came to I couldn’t move my hands or wrists. They told me it is a condition called tetnay. I think it may have something to do with the calcium blocker they give during the procedure because there is a connection between low calcium levels and tetnay. They admitted me to the ER although I was sure that everything was fine. After an EKG and a couple hours they released me and I feel just fine and am scheduled to go back in two weeks. (After the $100 ER copay this has turned into the most expensive platelet donation ever). Just wondering if anyone has experienced tetnay before, If I should take calcium before or any input in general. Platelets saved my mom’s life last Oct. so I am thrilled to be a donor.

    • Wow… I’m so sorry you had that experience! I’ve never gotten close to passing out, but maybe that speaks for for the “mild” weather we have here, in New Jersey, as compared to Utah. Recently, however, it’s been pretty bad here with the heat and the temp. is going up and up through to Wednesday. I’ve never experienced “tetnay” so I can’t comment on that. I’ve never taken calcium before donating, but I’m wondering if maybe I should start.

      Thanks for your comment and sorry that it took so long for me to post it, as I’ve been away to No-Internet-Land of my father’s house… lol.

  18. Just two days ago I donated triple units of platelets. I was at a sports team blood drive and afterwards there was an autograph/meet and greet with one of the players (John Carlson of the Washington Capitals). My experience was kind of odd, because I wasn’t told about the process until I sat in the bed, prepping for the procedure. After I disclosed my blood type, the nurse or tech person asked me if I was willing to donate platelets instead, and it was only going to take an extra 20 mins than donating whole blood. Well, after running the blood tests to make sure I could donate, it was determined that my platelet count was pretty high, and I was able to do a triple. A side note: I had only ever donated whole blood once before, 4 months prior to my first triple donation. So, I sit on the chair, and the woman mentions that it will be 107 mins!!! I thought, Oh my gosh! Are you serious?!?! Then I figured, if it’s this high, I might as well just do it. Then at the end, it turned out that it took 125 mins. to complete the process. Also, I wished that the woman asked me to make sure I didn’t have to use the bathroom before starting the long process, because with about an hour and a half left to go, I really had to use the bathroom!!!! Like, everyone else I felt the tingling in the lips and my left arm (not the arm with the needle). Best part was that I was able to cut the line for the autograph/meet and greet. But I didn’t look so good in the picture, it was taken about 20 mins after ending the donation and I really couldn’t stand for too long, and I tired very easily. But after about an hour of sitting I felt 100% better. Now, i realized the importance of donating platelets, and if I’m able to donate triple again, I am willing to do it, I will just prepare a little better for it.

    • Wow… way to go! I agree, they should have asked if you had to go the bathroom. One thing I wanted to mention is that if you continue to donate platelets your body will get used to it (mine did) and now I’m not as tired and don’t even need the tums for the tingly feeling. My first time, I was thinking that I was going to have a grand night out after my donation. Nope, I had to rush home to bed. I even felt a little sick. About 3 or 4 times later, I was feeling fine. I just made sure that I had plenty of iron beforehand and drank lots of water before and after the procedure. And yes, the amount you can give and the RATE that you can give at changes with each time, and even during the procedure, depending on your body at the time.

      Hope you continue to donate platelets. I really very much prefer this over whole blood because my blood type is very common and really not in need. Platelets are always in demand and can be given to anyone with any blood type. I feel I’m doing more good this way.

  19. Good for you for doing triple! I have a bleeding disorder (Von Willebrand’s Disease) and have to receive blood products and anti-coagulants whenever I have any kind of procedure done (or when I have my babies!) and I really appreciate all of the people who donate. I do hope you do it again, it helps people in a way you may never know!

    • Hi Pamela… Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I stopped by your blog and you have a wonderful family. I’m grateful that I can do platelets because my blood type (A-) is definitely NOT in demand as whole blood. I’m actually shocked that I can donate platelets because for a long time I was anemic and got rejected even for whole blood…. Turned out I was pregnant, but I was anemic for a few years before I had my son. The funny thing about getting rejected that first time.. it was actually another grand date with my husband. We found out that we both were donors and decided to go together. When I got rejected, I was mortified that DH would think that I wasn’t really a donor. Ha.. it took a long time before I could prove that… Last year Ed got his 3 gallon certificate (whole blood). Yeah, he’s a lifer.

  20. I’m no expert but my mom is a retired dietician. She suggested taking “time release” (time release is the key) iron supplements with Vitamin C to help get iron up. Tannins in tea, calcium, polyphenols and phytates inhibit iron absorption – but you should always be careful about taking supplements or limiting foods with calcium, etc. from your diet. Red meat (fish and poultry less so – but better than lentils, beans, etc.) is the best way to get iron – – but you should also always be careful about increasing certain foods (like red meat) in your diet too much.

    I have a really high platelet count (like 470) and give a triple every couple of weeks when my iron count is high enough. My veins are small so it takes 3 hours (it hurts if the return level is set too high) and makes me exhausted and nauseated too – but I keep doing it because sick people need the help and I would hope somebody would do the same for me if I needed help.

    FYI – another thing to be concerned about is calcium carbonation in sodas – especially for women. I guess the carbonation irritates the stomach which causes release of calcium (only antacid at your stomach’s disposal) from your blood (or if not available – from your bones) which can lead to osteoporosis. Sodas also have phosphoric acid which can drawdown calcium and lead to weak, brittle bones.

    • Hi… Thanks for commenting. I learned something new. Never knew about the carbonation in sodas. I fluctuate between drinking a lot, to not drinking it at all. The carbonation, itself, gives me bloated feeling and leaves me feeling uncomfortable. Sometimes, though I get a yen for it. I use a lot of ice, and I’m hoping that reduces the amount I’m drinking; but you give me a lot to think about, and water is way better for me anyway.

      I’m impressed that you are so dedicated to donating your platelets. I think I would feel the same way…. though recently, I’ve not been exhausted or nauseated afterwards. I usually give a triple, but last time, it was a double. Oh, that was last time I actually got to donate. Last time I was actually there, they messed up on getting my vein in BOTH arms, and had to send me away. That never happened to me and I am thinking, “what a waste” of time, equipment, and the loss of a triple donation for them. Oh well. Currently, medical problems have rendered me ineligible for now. When it gets cleared up, I will set up an appointment ASAP.

  21. I was on the internet and ran a google search and this page was one of the results. It is nice that you documented your experience in great detail and that you are encouraging as many people as possible to donate. I have been donating platelets for the last 6yrs. In 2009-2010 there was a span where I went about 12-15 months w/o donating, but once I learned to better manage my time (Family, work, exercise, sleep) I resumed my donations.

    I have a few things going for me that let me donate more platelets more often.

    1. I’m a dude! My HGB/IRON level is always good!
    2. I’m “FAT!” Your wt goes into the equation when It is decided how much you can donate. I’m slowly losing the wt, but being 294lbs helps.
    3. My schedule is flexable enough that I can donate on Thursdays or Saturdays.
    4. In Oklahoma, I can donate a triple once every 7 days, and up to 4 times a month.
    5. I got good veins on both arms! Sticking me is never an issue!

    I a few occasions I have had that slightly numb/tingling feeling but I have never needed tums. One two occasions the thumb & pointer/middle fingers of my Left hand (of course on the arm that is being used) went numb. The numbness continued even when the cuff pressure on my arm was fully released. Given the arms anatomy I cant figure out why this would happen. I was still able to finish out the donations on both of those occasions and the numbness slowly resolved after the needle was removed.

    Since I was 18 I have been donating whole blood. I would like to contact the places I have donated in the past (Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Oklahoma City) to get a tally of how much I given. It would be nice to know.


    • Hi Dave… thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Yes, I do think that donating platelets is very important and a lot of people are not informed about it.

      It’s funny, but a few years before I started donating, I was anemic and never really found out why. I’d like to be able to say it was because I was pregnant, but that would only account for nine months… Anyway, I do also realize that my weight is a large factor of my success at donating platelets. I’ve done many triples, but recently, I’ve been doing doubles… sadly even more recent still, I’ve been disqualified from donating pending medical issues. When I learn more about these issues, I’ll be writing. For now, I get conflicting viewpoints from doctors and from the blood center.

      I’ve only had the numbness and tingling happen when I was very new to donating. As I progressed, it got less and less until I stopped needing the TUMS. My DH has been a life long whole blood donor and he’s given gallons of his blood. I want to say three gallons, but not 100% sure on that. Sadly, around here, scheduling is difficult. Certain places only accept donations on certain days and it’s usually only once a week. I have a problem with my temperature going up if I have to commute to donate, so I had started to restrict myself to going to the closest place.

      Ah, it’s a great feeling to know that what we do is valued and needed, and can be accomplished and just as important when given by someone with a common blood type. I am type A-, one of THE most common, and it feels so satisfying to know that I can do something important and needed. I remember one time I was declined for giving whole blood because it wasn’t needed.

  22. I ran across this post today after searching for side effects of platelet donation. It was the first time I’ve been able to donate platelets, mainly because I organize a lot of blood drives and I’m always working them so taking the hour and half just never really fit into the schedule. However, my main reason for organizing blood drives and raising awareness about donation stems from my daughter’s need when she was 5 years old.

    Back in 2008 she was diagnosed with a rare disease called Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), that affects one in 1.2 million children. It is fatal unless treated with chemo and ultimately cured with a bone marrow transplant. She was lucky to be diagnosed in a timely manner, as most children are diagnosed post mortem. Her transplant occured the day before her 6th birthday in September of 2008. I am happy to say that she is alive and well and just turned 9 in September of 2011.

    During her isolation period and her stay in the hospital (18 months), I made a promise that I would do everything possible to raise awarness of blood and platelet donation and about joining the marrow registry. My daughter was completely dependent on blood and platelet transfusions in order to get her to transplant. Every since she came out of isolation, we have held countless blood drives in her honor and finally today, I was able to give a platelet donation, instead of my usual red cell donation. While I too experienced the symptoms you described (tingling, etc.), it was well worth the bag of ‘liquid gold’ that was the prize at the end. I know that without blood and platelet donors, my daughter would not be here today. So for anyone that finds themselves on this website and reads this paragraph, thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving the gifts of life that so many patients depend on. I for one am truly grateful.

    Kelly Marsh
    Sarasota, Florida
    Mom to HLH/BMT Survivor, Hannah Marsh

    • Hi Kelly…
      I’m so glad you wrote. I’ve been procrastinating making a donation after a medical problem prevented me for over a year. However, I think I’m able to do it now, after a surgical procedure in October. The one thing that might prevent me is that I’m taking low dose aspirin as a blood thinner, so I’m not sure. I first started donating after being turned away from a whole blood donation right after the 9/11 tragedy. My blood type is A- and apparently, pretty common and they had too much of that blood type. What I really love about platelet (or any component) donation is that it is very valuable and you can give approximately every two weeks. I was giving triples so, I was helping potentially three people with every donation. Concerning the side effects of platelet donation, I think they do get milder and milder with ever donation.

      Thanks again, for commenting and know that you’ve motivated me to resume pursuing platelet donation.

  23. Thank YOU for taking the time to reply and for reconsidering resuming your platelet donation. I am a true believer that one person can make a difference. Just imagine the lives that YOU have ultimately impacted over the years. I am quite sure that they are as grateful as I am. 🙂 As it turns out, it’s a really small world. I scrolled up and read some of the posts written, and saw that someone (post #14) was from Tampa and donated through Florida Blood Services. It said they started donating platelets in June of 2008 – that happens to be when my daughter was first diagnosed! She was in the Tampa Bay area and had a platelet level of one (1) which is what sent us to the hospital! There’s a very good chance that this person could have been one of the many platelet donations she received when we were there! Now that’s incredible!

  24. I have been donating whole blood most of my life, never on a regular basis. Recently my wife was put on IVIG to help remodulate her immune system They were having a blood drive where and while I was donating they were talking to donors about platelets. I figured since somebody some where was helping my wife I wanted to return the favor. She has since stopped receiving those treatments . Since then I have been donating platelets on a regular basis and have been lucky, I really haven’t had any side effects. I never know what level I will be donating the center in Raritan, NJ tells me the machine decides that. But I typically donate a double or triple. It typically takes about 90 min or more for the whole process, not including the juice and cookies at the end. Over the past two years since I am a regular donor and my donations are tracked I get the Gallon Club card. Its a white card saying I have donated a gallon of platelets. I get a gold card at 5 gallons and black card when I go over 10. I have a 4:30pm appointment tonight, I was doing it early Sundays but the donation center is about 35 miles away from where I live and since gas is so expensive I sorry to say I had to start donating since the center is fairly close to my commute.

    • Thanks so much for donating, Steve~! When I am donating, I make sure that I carve out a big chunk of time if I can because you’re right, you never know how much you can give, or how long it’s going to take… even if you always donate the same amount, the time can vary because there are various factors that go into it. I’ve had it happen that my time had to be adjusted mid-donation because the alarm went off and they had to adjust the rate of the process. They also offered to trim it down from a triple to a double or single if I wanted. ooo, but then one time I couldn’t donate ANYTHING because the tech failed to insert the needle properly in BOTH arms and I ended up having two black and blue arms. I was pissed off that time, but that was my one and only bad experience.

      Where is the center in Raritan? Is that the Raritan off Rt22.? There is a “Raritan Center” not too far from me.

      Great job!

  25. Reblogged this on DragonMommie's World and commented:

    Just a quickie…. I’m pretty excited. I’m reblogging this post because its been linked to resources page for donating blood. What is so coincidental is that I got a call today from Marty at the blood bank that I’ve been donating to. For over a year I abstained from donating, banned for medical reasons. Marty’s call came not long after I approved the pingback and of course it worked out that I am available at the moment on Mondays. So chickies, I’ve got an important date on April 30th, at 4:30pm.

    I’ve got to say that I’ve gotten the most response from whatever I’ve written about platelet donations, and while I write about more than that, I couldn’t be happier that people are responding and commenting on my few platelet posts. I’ve totally enjoyed interacting with my platelet donating peeps!

    Keep up the good work and hopefully, I’ll rejoin the ranks of all you wonderful people out there…. All of you are amazing!

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