Yesterday I did something I hadn't tried before. I donated platelets. Since it was my first time, they didn't keep me on the machine the full time. It is something that I'll have to get used to.
They're all ready for platelet donors at the Mt Hope office of the Red Cross. (The main office for the Chesapeake region. It's about 10 minutes from my house.) In addition to blankets for the expected chill (For some reason donors get very chilly) they have a nice collection of DVDs to watch. Since a donation usually takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours, and you can't move, having a movie is very useful.
Platelets are one of the components of blood and they control bleeding. So for a platelet donation you get two needles, one to get the blood out and the other to return your blood - minus the platelets. The process didn't bother me as much as I expected. Though hypothetically you can give platelets every other day - and up to 24 times a year -, I'm not inclined to do it so regularly. (Two hours is a long time to give up!)
The importance of platelets is that they are used to assist with cancer and leukemia patients in their treatments. Chemotherapy compromises a person's ability to produce platelets leaving these patients susceptible to excessive bleeding. Donated platelets can help them clot properly. I was recruited because platelet supplies are low and the Red Cross found the last time I donated blood that I had a very high concentration of platelets in my blood. (When the phlebotomist was taking my blood for the iron test yesterday, she noted that the pinprick clotted rather quickly and said that I must have lots of platelets.)
I don't think that apheresis is for everyone. But if you are healthy and can donate blood, think about occasionally donating platelets.
(If Instapundit can put in a plug about blood donation, why can't I plug apheresis?)