Tomorrow I’m going to have blood removed from my body, mixed with citrate, and separated. The red blood cells and citrate will be returned to my body, and everything else donated.
It’s going to take an hour. The plasma taken from my blood could be shipped to Australia to create blood products which are returned to New Zealand for people’s medical treatment, or used in education.
I’m a regular whole blood donor, but recently the New Zealand Blood Service have been on a drive for more Plasma donors.
Plasma can of course come from whole blood donations, but not as much can be gathered, – if the donor loses too many red blood cells, they will become anaemic. By this method of donation, up to 12 times more platelets (which help blood to clot) and 2-3 times more plasma can be donated in one sitting.
Because the components taken from your blood with this kind of donation are faster to regenerate, plasma donors can make donations every two weeks – rather than the three months whole blood donors wait. Find out more about Plasma donations in this PDF.
I’m on the bone marrow list too, being a common Kiwi mix of “a bunch of races” – Maori, Irish, English, who knows what else… I could be a match for someone with a similarly tricky genetic combination. Cancer is horrible and if there’s a chance I can save someone from leukaemia, I’m up for that.
As usual before a donation, I’m nervous.
My left arm has a good spot of scars from my prvious donations (not really that many – this guy reached 500!). Once, when I was doing my second whole blood donation while at high school, I had an unfortunate experience which involved a bloodied white uniform shirt.
The plasters leave a dramatic bruise on my inner arm too, I had a pretty good one for last year’s Webstock and felt like a junkie with my messed up vein.
I don’t like donating blood. You get cookies, which are bribe enough for some, but my real driver for donating is that it’s something real that can be done to help people.
I like to think that if anyone I know was in a car accident or needed a blood transfusion (like my great aunt is having right this moment), I could potentially have helped save their life. Friends of mine are having babies now, and any one of them could need or could have needed blood to save their, or their babies’ life.
One day, I might need blood, and there will only be blood there if people keep donating.
If you’re not a donor already, hop over to the NZ Blood service website and have a read. The donor centre in Epsom is super well appointed, has carparks aplenty and is open late nights every week. The nurses are lovely, and yes, there are bikkies and free wi-fi aplenty.