Donating Blood

It was in 2004 when I first donated blood, taken along to the blood donation centre by my friends. A few of us came, and a few refused to do it, and one friend tried to push through his fear of needles... that ended up with him fainting on the floor and being sheepishly wheeled past us in a wheel chair. I have donated ever since, and resumed donating when I returned from Houston.

I wasn't allow to donate blood in Texas, thanks to Mad Cow Disease (seriously), and upon returning to the UK I had to wait six month before donating due to my prolonged absence.

Last night, however, I decided to give up donating whole blood and instead start donating platelets. Platelets are the bits inside blood that allow blood to clot, and are very important parts of the blood. When certain patients are being treated, such as those for leukaemia or premature babies, they cannot create their own platelets and a transfusion is needed. I have a personal connection to leukaemia, my cousin Mari is a survivor of the illness, and has been cancer clear for a good bit of time now.

I first read about platelets during research for a quiz question that didn't get used - the way it works is that they take your blood of you just like in a normal blood donation, but put it through a centrifuge, which gravity separates the blood cells from the platelets, which are then harvested. The blood is then sent back into your body and you are left none the wiser.

The whole process does take a lot longer than normal donations, as I can be in and out inside 10 minutes thanks to my lovely veins and blood pressure, but in the platelet donation it can take up to 90 minutes due to the amount of blood needed to make the platelet count worthwhile.

I was tested last night and accepted into the programme, yet I am still to have my first donation. I look forward to it, as I do like to be doing my bit for the blood transfusion service, where I can.

And so should you, if you can.