Thursday, October 28, 2010

The IBTS Platelet Clinic

Yesterday I became a platelet donor at the Irish Blood Transfusion Service clinic in St James's Hospital. Since I was 18 I have been attending ordinary blood donation clinics to give whole blood. I want to emulate my Dad who is the proud owner of a Gold Drop Award for 50 donations. At my last donation in D'Olier St, an attendant persuaded me to try out the platelet clinic - last week I went along for an assessment. Yesterday was my first time at the clinic proper.

I have to say that the whole experience was trouble free and very pleasant. All the staff are wonderful - so polite, caring, thoughtful, and very professional. They obviously are delighted to have people call to the clinic to donate - and they show their appreciation. The clinic is very modern, with state-of-the-art equipment. Hygiene and sterilization are taken seriously - all needles, tubes, and blood collection tools are discarded after each donation. It must be a very expensive business. My platelet donation took 75 minutes - a long time given that an ordinary blood donation can be less than 10 minutes. Their WiFi service was not working - I had brought along an iPad with the intention of accessing the Internet. Instead I read about 50 pages of "The Last of the Mohicans" eBook. After the donation I had one of the best scones ever - this alone makes it worthwhile to come back!

From Wikipedia: Image from a light
microscope (40x) from a peripheral
blood smear surrounded by red blood
cells. One platelet can be seen in the upper
left side of the image (purple) and is
significantly smaller in size than the red
blood cells (stained pink) and the two
neutrophils (stained purple).
Blood has three main parts - red cells, white cells, and platelets. Platelets are small cells present in the blood of all healthy people. They are essential to enable blood to clot properly. Patients who do not have enough platelets in their blood are at risk of spontaneous bleeding - patients recovering from major surgery and new-born premature babies are the main recipients of platelets. 

Over 20,000 platelet transfusions are needed every year in Ireland, and this number is continuing to rise. If you are interested in donating platelets, or know someone who might also be interested, check out the IBTS website for more details.

It really is a pleasant experience in comfortable surroundings. I experienced no pain or discomfort at all - even the initial needle piercing was painless. 

Why not give it a try?

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