Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Third Time a Charm

I am blessed to be part of a special blood donation program called Apheresis. It is an option for donors who donate whole blood but just takes a little extra time to donate and also requires a trip into the city as the donation locations are limited. Basically, rather than take a donation of whole blood they draw some blood, put it through a centrifuge to spin out the platelets, add a little anti-coagulant and give the rest of it back to me. This process repeats a number of times over about a 45 min timeframe.

The reason this program close to my heart is that when I receive a phone call, I've been a direct match for someone who requires platelets immediately. Within hours of the donation being made it is already being given to the person I was matched with. This may be somone with a blood disorder, leukemia or a burn victim. Yesterday afternoon I received a call to go in and make a donation today. The weather and traffic were awful this morning and a normal 40 min. drive took 2 1/4 hours. I was stressed to say the least and my blood pressure was through the roof to prove it!

The reason I called this post 'third time a charm' is that my arms would just not cooperate today and it took one (pinchy but not painful) first attempt by 2 nurses that eventually found a vein but then I clotted the needle before they could get the machine started as my platelets are really high. That's a great thing for these donations but once I clot it the needle has to be removed immediately. Stink! A prod in my other arm confirmed once again that it does not have a single useable vein and then finally she made a very precarious but successful second attempt in my left arm. Roxy (the nurse in the picture above) kept telling me jokingly to stop moving as I'd make the machine beep each time I moved my arm the slightest bit. Eventually it got to the point that when my machine beeped again I'd just call out 'Sorry Roxy' and she'd yell back, 'sit still!' (She's also teased that if she wasn't successful the 2nd time she tried my left arm she was going for my neck! Heh....nope!! Sure am glad she found that one! ;o)

The people that participate in this process get to know one another really well, both the donors and nurses. When someone is quite ill there may only be a handful of people who are a good match for them so they go in often. Frances was the guy in the chair next to me and we spent the entire time laughing and joking with the nurses. You can see his platelet donation hanging on his stand. Yup...the pull out red blood, put red blood back and somehow spin out yellowish platelets. Modern science is wonderful!

I hadn't been in to the city to make a platelet donation for a few years but a couple of recent events changed that for me this time. A friend contracted an extremely rare blood disease just weeks ago and owes her life to platelet donations (she's doing great now and her bloodwork was called 'pristine' yesterday! Praise the Lord!) and also, a friend knows of a little 5 yo girl who was diagnosed with leukemia just days ago. Knowing that I was a match for someone meant I 'had' to go in and do whatever I could. I'm praying for the man who quite possibly has already received my donation. I don't need to know his name for God to know exactly who I'm praying for. Cool!!

If you have a opportunity to be a blood donor, please do. None of us will ever know if/when we might need a blood or platelet transfusion and it could be the generosity of a complete stranger that saves your life.

21 comments:

  1. I was just thinking this week about you doing this and wondered if by some miracle that you would be a match for Delaney if she needed it! So cool that you do this! So giving and selfless, Catherine! Thanks for the reminder and for the sacrificial gift you gave!

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  2. You're a good egg Charlie (Catherine) Brown!

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  3. My veins are crappy too! You are a very generous person!

    Geez your friend looks identical to a friend of mine!!!

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  4. Catherine, just thought that I'd pass along that I use to have a very hard time giving blood even for routine blood work for myself. The tech's just could find or keep a vein. Then someone told me to make sure to drink several glasses of water before going in. I have never had a problem since.
    Thanks for sharing all your blessings with us.

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  5. Is it even possible that I love you more?? <3
    I, too, am a blood donor and have given my blood for the marrow program. Sadly, my iron is too low right now to continue giving, but once it is back to its regular state, I'll be back at it. It pains me to hear the cries for blood and know that I can't give. :(

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  6. And the woman keeps on giving! Catherine you are such an amazing woman and your selflessness is such an inspiration and a blessing to so many other people. LOVE YOU!!!!

    k

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  7. Like K1...I did not think I could love and adore you more. Your sweet spirit knows no limits.

    Keep smiliun!

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  8. I'd love to give blood, but I'm always low iron and then there are my medications.......so I doubt they would let me.........

    You are such a wonderful person!!!

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  9. You are a good person!

    I am unable to donate as I had a disease when I was a child.

    Thanks for doing this for those who can't.

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  10. Not as though there were any doubt, you ARE an angel among us :0)

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  11. You are an angel among us, Catherine. Many people give blood, but very, very few take that extra step. I'm so glad to "know" you.

    My husband is O negative, so he is a part of the 10 Gallon Club. He's never donated platelets, though. Hmmm...

    I cannot give blood -- not allowed to do it. :(

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  12. You are doing a wonderful thing. how do people find out more about this and if there are sites closer to me (kingston maybe?)

    my friends daughter was diagnosed with luekemia just a few days ago (it couldn't be the same little girl, is it? She is 5 also, lives in Belleville).


    anyhow, bravo. you are a hero!

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  13. Catherine,

    Being that friend whose life was saved by bags and bags and bags of plasma (containing those much needed platelets) I say THANK YOU! Thank you for donating and spreading the word, encouraging others to donate.

    As I am no longer allowed to donate, because I have received blood products myself, I am very grateful to those who can!

    As Alabama sings... "I believe there are angels among us"... and you are one of them!

    Love,
    Jules

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  14. Just another reason you are the most wonderful person I know.

    (I have to admit just reading your post gave me the shivers, I am so freaky scared of needles...)

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  15. You scared me there, Catherine. When I first clicked on the post I thought you were in the hospital. Because YOU were sick. Glad that's not the case.

    And what a great thing to do. Bravo, my friend.

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  16. I have followed your blog for long time but never commented. I just want to THANK YOU!! My father was dependant on platelet transfusions due to illness and sadly lost his life due to NO platelets available in the county over a holiday weekend 8 years ago. The generosity of others like you sustained his life for over a year. I hope that you soon see sweet Hannah's face very soon.
    My 6 and 3 year old girls are both from China and I am also a single mom.
    Have a happy Holiday!!
    Michele, Mom to Emily and Alyssa

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  17. Catherine - what a wonderful and giving person you are to do this for others. Here's a hug across the miles...love that!

    Cb

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