I’ve regularly donated whenever United Blood Services has held blood donation drives at Medical Center Hospital for several years now but I was anxious about donating blood after having had surgery. I finally decided to get back in the groove today.
Today the UBS staff employed a new-to-me technology called pheresis. During this process, whole blood is drawn and goes into a machine that separates the red blood cells (or platelets) from the other components in the whole blood. The remaining plasma is then returned to the donor. Since a unit of whole blood only contains about one tablespoon of platelets, the net result is that you can donate 16 times as much of the most vital blood component while actually losing less volume than you would during a traditional donation. Pheresis donation only takes about 10-15 minutes longer than the normal blood donation method and, aside from the initial needle sting, is just as painless. (Platelets are especially vital for patients undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems.)
Donating blood is, of course, a very charitable gesture and that’s certainly reason enough to do so. But what’s more, there’s some compelling evidence that donating blood helps, among other things, lower bad cholesterol and may play a part in preventing heart disease for the donor.
So, give blood—it’s good for your community and good for your health too!