The end of the year put a strain on our local blood supply. More blood was going out, than coming in, which is usually the case over the holidays.For good reason, January is National Blood Donor Month and patients in Sioux Falls need you now more than ever.
Sue says, "I do it for a couple of reasons. I have a lot of platelets and it gives me an excuse to come to Sioux Falls to see my children and run errands. Plus, I have had a couple of dear friends who needed platelets. They treat you so well here. It's an easy thing to do and helps so many people."
Sue won't admit it, but she is a special volunteer because she's a pheresis donor. Avera McKennan is the only hospital in the state with pheresis capability. They have a machine that automatically separate the components of the blood (red cells, plasma, platelets). Sue has a high platelet count. so that's what she donates. Her plasma and red blood cells go back in to her arm. You can actually see a white cloud swirling in to a bag and those are her platelets. They are the cells in our blood that promote clotting. Patients with leukemia and other cancers depend on platelets to survive.
Sue says, "Most of all my platelets are high so it helps me get rid of some of them and one of my dear friends died and needed platelets by the bucket load so I guess I kinda do this for Justin. I have been giving blood since I was in nursing school, but I started donated platelets about a year ago. Justin died last March."
A person donating through pheresis gives 6 times the amount of platelets than those donating all their blood.
Sue says, "It's a bitter sweet feeling. It's a good feeling, but you know that your platelets are going to go to someone who is feeling very sick."
This process takes a little bit longer than donating whole blood and you have to come to Avera McKennan to do it, but the benefits are far reaching.
Leo Serrano is the Director of Avera McKennan Labs. He says, "A single donor through pheresis platelets is very helpful to the patients. It exposes the cancer patients to the least number of donors so it's a safer product. It's a much better way to donate and a much better way to treat our patients."
And you never know when you or your loved ones will be that patient in need of blood. Donate tomorrow. The life you save could be your own.
The Avera McKennan Blood Bank collects about 60 units of platelets a month. Leo Serrano says they need 2 to 3 times that amount. If you'd like to be donor call (605) 322-7111 to set up an appointment at the hospital. Health officials ask that you refrain from taking Aspirin products for 72 hours and Ibuprofen for 24 hours before you donate blood.