Many years ago I saw a cartoon showing an emaciated-looking old man sitting at the check-in station at a blood bank. His eyes were droopy. His face was wrinkled. He sat hunched over. The caption was the blood bank staff person telling the old gent, “I’m sorry, but we can’t take blood from you anymore. The last pint you gave evaporated before we could use it.”
Believe it or not I’ve just experienced something not all that different, and, as a result, I’m finding it more difficult to be generous with my blood.
The Delmarva Blood Bank in Dover had been sending out frequent appeals for platelet donations over the past few weeks. I wanted to donate, but finding a slot on the calendar that would accommodate the procedure was a bit of a challenge (platelet donations, unlike whole blood donations, take a couple of hours). Before we left for vacation last week I made an appointment for yesterday (August 8th). When we got home Sunday afternoon I looked at the appointment overview that came in my email and gave instructions for preparing to donate. I saw that I was not to take any aspirin for 48 hours or more prior to donating. This is something I should have known, since I was a regular platelet donor for years after the kidney transplant surgery for my sister. However, I had automatically taken my daily dose of meds on Sunday morning, which included an 81 mg aspirin.
I called Sunday afternoon and left a message on the blood bank’s voice mail and even sent a reply to the email appointment reminder in hopes that someone might catch my predicament and tell me what to do before my appointment time yesterday. Since that didn’t happen, I drove to the blood bank to explain the situation. I thought that, perhaps, because it was well over 24 hours, and the dose of aspirin was so small, it would be OK to donate, but, nope. They said it had to be at least 48 hours since my last dose of ASA. So I made an appointment for this afternoon (Tuesday, Aug. 9).
Check-in went great; my iron was good (I’ve been denied in the past because of low iron); they took me to the back room and pointed out which chair I would be using, and I got comfy. The nurse who had taken my blood on my last visit came up to me and said that she had made a note on my chart about my veins! She needed to check out my veins because of the trouble they had last time finding one that would work. This surprised me, because I didn’t remember having any serious issues with my veins before.
After she and another nurse looked my veins over they determined that I was not a good candidate for a platelet donation. They could still take a whole blood donation, though, if I wanted to do that (I wanted to do that). So, instead of spending over two hours donating this afternoon, it turned out to be only a little over one.
I’m really kind of sad. Donating platelets would always take me back to those post-surgical days over 15 years ago when I would hop over the Delaware River to the Red Cross on Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia, select a VHS movie to watch, and have a chunk of peace and quiet while doing something beneficial for somebody I would never meet. Those days are now over. It’s the end of an era. At least I can still donate whole blood (I was tempted this afternoon to take one of the freebie stickers that was on my table in the canteen: “I donate blood for the cookies,” but then I decided against it).
As I sit here, my arm wrapped in that stretchy kind of Ace bandage, I have to wonder how long it will be before my veins give out completely and I’m not able even to leave a pint of the life-giving fluid at the blood bank.
At least they haven’t told me yet that my blood evaporated before they could use it.