I flunked apheresis yesterday

Empty apheresis cart
The picture at the right is a platelet pharesis machine sitting next to my chair at the West Chester Collection center of the American Red Cross — right behind Senora’s Mexican Restaurant and under Spirit of Yoga. Giving platelets is something I’ve been looking forward to doing once my commute to New York is over — it takes about 90 minutes to give platelets. I started doing this in New York after September 11th (remember that everyone thought the way to respond was to give blood? Me too), and it makes me feel like a rock star because I have O negative blood, which means my platelets are regularly used to avert international crises, move the planets back into their proper alignment, and bring sweet dreams of harmony and love to all the little children everywhere. At least, that’s what they tell me when they call to request an appointment.
Anyhow, I flunked out yesterday morning. The sheaf of tubes at right SHOULD be all Krazy-Straw full of my blood, since the machine takes the blood out of your left arm, runs it through a centrifuge (or something), extracts the platelets, then puts it back in your right arm. During the ninety-minute process, something like SEVENTY PERCENT(!!!) of your blood makes the round-trip through the machine, which I think is just awesomely gross.
But the phlebotomist had a Very Serious Expression when she was tapping my left arm, and we had to try a couple of times, and it didn’t work out. Apparently, I have “skinny veins”, and after two tries without a good flow from my left arm, they detached me, turned off “Spider-Man 3” on the DVD player hanging in front of my face (see, aparesis is also a chance to watch terrible nerd movies your family will never want to go see or rent!), gave me a T-shirt, and sorrowfully sent me on my way.
I felt sad and disappointed about it. I also have some pretty gruesome-looking bruises on the inside of my left elbow, but it wasn’t really that unpleasant of a procedure. And everyone at the blood center was REALLY nice and professional. I guess I’ll wait two weeks, then try again for my next chance to Save the World (and watch a terrible movie!)

3 responses to “I flunked apheresis yesterday”

  1. Ooops. Weeie veins. A Baldwin inheritance. I got ’em. Yr grandmother Baldwin had ’em. When I visit the phlebotomist, I generally say, “You’ll probably need to use the pediatric needle.” I don’t know that you’d want to do that for such a long procedure though, it would make it a lot longer.
    Odd that you’ve done this so many times in NYC w/o a problem, but then life is diff’rent in smaller towns…
    Glad you are still doing this, though, and I love it that you are O neg, for some reason it makes me proud — “Hey, eatchaheartout, MY kid’s a _Universal Donor_!!”
    Love, Momma


  2. Ah, you need thicker pipes.
    I can’t give blood, have never been able to. Borderline anemic. So every time I see those Red Cross give blood posters, my inner Angry White Guy (uh … what?) thinks, “Why don’t you brag about it, Mr. I can give blood?!”.
    😉 yeah, so, why don’t you brag about it, mr. perfect platelet
    j/k (maybe they should milk you for platelets like so many udders)


  3. When I was in college, I used to sell my plasma. They’d give you about $35 a pop, and you could do it twice a week. Then you could go out and get a drink and you’d be drunk after one. It was like they were paying you to get drunk. That’s what we told ourselves, at least. When my parents got wind, they started sending me money if i promised not to do that anymore. Parents.
    I loved watching it go through the cool spinner contraption. It was sort of disgustingly fascinating.
    I also have skinny veins. It does make for more exciting bruising, I agree, but it’s always sad wen they send you home. And at least it sounds like they didn’t dig too much, which is always unpleasant.
    How long before you get to try again?


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