Being a 3.6%er – apheresis (plasma/platelets) donation

I’m writing this for myself dear reader, as I can never remember the differences between plasma & platelets.
You don’t need to read anyway further.

Why be an apheresis donor?
As an apheresis donor, I can donate platelets or plasma every 2 -> 3 weeks. Plasma and platelets are more valuable than a 3 monthly whole blood donation.

Why platelets?
The main function of platelets is to help blood clotting, which helps to seal wounds. It is particularly useful for leukaemia patients, and those people undergoing chemotherapy.
Platelets have a shelf life of 5 days.
As I do a double-platelets donation, I can only donate once every 4 weeks.

Why plasma?
Plasma is the “glue” which binds red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets together. Plasma assists with clotting. 60% of your blood is made up of plasma. I donate 650ml at each donation.
Plasma is used for making 13 different blood products. Soe of the products are used for burns treatments, assisting immune systems and haemophila.
I can donate plasma every 2 -> 3 weeks.

What about the Bone Marrow Donor Registry?
Why did I join the register? “In for a penny, in for a pound”. I signed up for the registry the same day I became a blood donor. The nurse gave me a discouraging look at the time.
In those days, the brochure told you exactly how the process worked, needles and all. Now they gave you a lot less details. I guess they do this so to not discourage people.
I’ve never been called up.

What could I be expected to donate?
1. Bone marrow, which is used to treat leukaemia or fatal blood disorders.
2. Perphipheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donations are used for regenerating the bone marrow which can be destroyed in high-dose chemotherapy. It’s particularly useful for children.

How many donors in Australia?
Of the 13,650,000 eligible donors, only 500,000 (just 3.6%!) chose to donate blood.
Of these 500,000, 23% of them are on the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Register.
So that makes me and the other 499,999 donors a 3.6%er. Much better than being a one-percenter.

Further information:
Apheresis donating in Australia
Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registy
Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide