Any health benefits from donating platelets?

does having blood drawn from one arm, having the machine remove platelets then return return it to the other have any positive effect on my system or do I just “recover” and do again every two weeks?

I also give Whole blood every 56 days.

Well it is said that doing things that help you feel good about yourself as a decent human being who is helping others has positive health benefits. So there’s that anyway.

The whole blood bit may have some additional benefits: lowered iron stores are speculated to decrease heart disease and cancer risks.

I feel silly asking… Does having my blood circulate and move more (via machine) do anything as far as improve the flow to my extremities? Does it affect capillary action?


Thank you Doctor DSeid, “no” is the cite I’ve been looking for.

It sounds like you want a more detailed answer.

I suspect it is good for you because acts of compassion are healthy for the compassionate and because the regular two or so hours that it takes can be used meditatively and/or to socialize and community connections, both of which have long term health benefits.

But there is no advantage to your arms gained by over those two or so hours gradually moving some volume of blood out one arm, taking off the platelets, and putting it back in the other arm. Your heart does not need to work harder and in net you have the same flow, just with detour. You want to increase flow to your extremities? Do some calisthenics. It increases flow everywhere. There is some thought that the citrate used as an anticoagulant might transiently slightly lower calcium levels (and that can cause tingling in some people) but no evidence or serious reason to believe that doing such has any long term impact positive or negative.

Your being a platelet donor on a regular basis is a wonderful and admirable thing. If you end up meeting Osiris upon death it might help your heart weigh less than a feather and gain you entry to an afterlife. It is an act of goodness, of kindness, of compassion, of generosity, that does great good. Without gaining much directly in return.

I’ve been a platelet donor since 1981. [brag] 280+ donations! [/brag] I’ve asked your specific question at each of the four facilities I’ve donated. The answer is always “You’ll feel better about yourself,” and then “No.”

BTW #1: I once asked if the platelet machine would stop automatically if I died in the chair during the donation. After some discussion the consensus was no. That’s the kind of question you come up with when you’ve asked every question there is about the process.

BTW #2: Be happy for modern one-arm machines. Back in the old days both arms were stuck. For some of us regulars we had bragging rights if we got stuck four or more times in one session in order to get a “good stick.” Getting stuck three times happened so often I lost count. Yuck.

I’m also a regular PLTs donor. Are there other donors here, PLTs or whole blood or other blood products?

[brag, quieter than ASGuy] I’m at 154 donations at my current blood center. [/brag, quieter than ASGuy]

I’ve been donating since 1980, at my first duty station when I learned there was such a thing. I currently donate at Stanford Blood Center south of San Francisco. For donors having ≥100 donations there’s an annual appreciation breakfast and we learn how our blood products are used. PLTs are often needed by chemo patients. We also meet parents and family of patients who’ve needed our products. It is humbling. And some of it is used for research.

Dopers, if you can donate, please give it a try. Our blood is needed!

In fairness to Bullitt I am a strictly platelet donor. In the old days that meant I could donate every three days if I were so inclined. (I was not.) But for me every two to three weeks was doable. And that is what I did, and still do. It’s easy to rack up a high score when you donate every three weeks. But I’m a piker in comparison to Leroy, another local donor. My gallon count is 45. His is 90! I could live another 20 years and not match his record.

The benefits Bullitt gets are different than mine. After 100 donations we receive a voucher for a free meal for two at local high-end restaurants. Too be sure, I enjoy the meal. But I think I would enjoy some public recognition a bit more. Selfish me I suppose.

But Bullitt is right about donating. If you can, do it. Whether it be blood, plasma or platelets. I know with certainty that I have saved a few lives by doing so. It’s a good feeling and why I continue to donate.

A timely thread–I donated platelets today. I tried a couple weeks ago and was turned away because my iron levels were a tick too low. Today I barely made it.

I used to donate more often, but they closed the donation center in my community and consolidated with the center in a town fifteen miles away “in order to serve you better” (yes, that’s what they said). There are still local blood drives, but no platelet opportunities. So I donate a lot less than I used to.

They do give me free MLB tickets once a year though…so it is not all selfless! (Also my wife uses lots of blood products so there’s that…)

DSeid, thanks for your expertise, and I really appreciated your post 7!

:+1: Like
About low iron, one trick is to have some instant Cream of Wheat for breakfast on donation day. It bumps up your Hgb count.

I donated platelets for many years, starting at a well-known children’s hospital where I was a grad student. That was the late 70s and the process still consisted of two lines (one in each arm) and doing about six passes of one unit each. (Remove a unit, spin it to harvest the platelets, then pump the remaining blood products to a hanging bag for return through the other arm.) I often did it twice a week, since I was in good health, readily available, and had 0-negative blood.

Virtually every donation was scheduled specifically for a pediatric patient who was experiencing a crisis. I was often called at home late at night to come in for an emergency.

The staff went out of their way to make sure that we donors never knew or met the patients or their families. This was wise. On more then one occasion, the nurse would come in after I had completed four or five passes and ask if I wanted the platelets back. This was hospital-speak for, “We appreciate your coming in at 3:00 AM, but the child died before we could get her the platelets. You made every effort.” As expected, this tended to bum me out for the rest of the day.

Where I donate platelets, it is now all done in one arm, both the draw and the return done through one needle.

How awful.

Yes, starting in the 80s, the process became one of “continuous harvesting” of the platelets as the blood went through the machine.

The older method required two canulae to be inserted, one in each arm. They would draw about a pint, spin it and harvest, and then pump the remaining blood products up to a hanging bag connected to your other arm. Each pass took about 10-15 minutes.

It’s much faster now.

It’s a very worthwhile donation and you can donate every few days. (I once donated four times in a week.)

Truly. Can platelets be kept on ice for the next wee one to come in? I’d be inclined to say, “Keep 'em,” then.

All of you one arm draws are lucky! My local Red Cross Apheresis Unit has completely switched over to two arm systems - they say it improves yields. I say it makes me completely uncomfortable and unable to scratch my nose! Supposedly they say that they can do one arm draws, but each time I’ve asked, it seems to be a problem. I donate triple units, either one arm or two, so I’d like to have one arm back!

Hey, where I donate you get cookies and a warm-ass Coke.

And wtf ours are two arms now I am hella jealous. You can’t really read a book comfortably.

how big are the needle for platelet donation?

I’m told they have a usable life of five days.

That is indeed one of the saddest stories I have read in a while, ZonexandScout. I don’t know how many times I would have been able to take hearing that. Maybe only once.

Curious about one thing you said–I am told that blood type makes not a whit of difference where platelets are concerned. So, platelets including my blood can be used by anyone even though I am not a universal donor. You suggest that being O neg makes you extremely in demand for platelets…wondering why that would be, or is my information wrong?

(As I mentioned my wife often needs blood products. We are quite sure that she has never had my blood in the form of platelets, because there’s never been a time lag of less than a week between me giving and her needing; but I’ve been told that for platelets, unlike whole blood, it doesn;t matter that we don’t have compatible blood types, so it would in theory be possible. But it could be I’ve been told wrong. Curious about what the scoop is here.)

BBB: Not very. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but it seems like the same general size as lab-work needles.