Apheresis and the four page consent form

Trima Accel Blood collection machine When I first donated blood, the consent form was a single A5 sheet.  10 questions max.  Post-HIV, the form has grown 800%.  It’s not ALL HIV related.  For example, if you’re lived in England, there’s a special “Mad Cow” question just for you.

But that’s it, or was until recently.

“Apheresis Information and Consent Form – Saline Compensation”, covers such wonderful topics as

  • What is apheresis?
    I’ve been donating apheresis off/on for the last 20ish years, think I’d know by now.
  • How long does plasmapheresis/plateletphersis take, and how much is collected?
    About the same time as ‘I can hold it in’ before needing to rush to the toilets.  It’s a long time for me, about 70mins.
  • What problems can arise from apheresis donation?
    The one’s they don’t list on the form:
    * taking several attempts to harpoon the vein.
    * punching though the vein.
    * bruising around the harpoon site.

Oh I don’t regret being an apheresis donor.

But a 4 page consent form??? It’s a world gone mad.

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“You can be even more special” – by donating plasma & platelets.

Trima Accel Blood collection machine Don’t just donate blood, donate plasma instead!

Plasma makes up to 13 life saving products, used to treat a range of medical conditions including hemophilia, liver and kidney disease.  And you can donate plasma more often, every 2 to 4 weeks, as opposed to 12 weeks for red blood cells.*

The downsides:

  • I tend to feel washed out afterwards, but that is gone after a night’s sleep.
  • If you get an inexperienced nurse, you end up a pin-cushion, just like regular blood donations.
  • the “gottagopee” feeling, which occurs five minutes after being strapped in.

The upsides:

  • free milkshakes
  • free party pies.

* – yes, I have been reading propaganda at the Red Cross again.

Previous Blood Donation post

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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