By Darshan Patwardhan on 20 July 2012
Darshan Patwardhan from KPIT Cummins, on the completion of his 100th platelet donation shares his experiences and thoughts on how rewarding it can be.
When a friend mentioned that he was on his way to donate platelets, my first reaction was, ‘exactly what are you doing?'.
That was five years ago. I was in the second year of my Mechanical Engineering studies, and, like every other student, I was just as busy bunking classes as attending them. A typical 21 year-old, my focus was sporting events and all other fun college gatherings.
Platelet donation was something new though. Of course I was curious, especially when my friend described the process and explained that only a very small percentage of the population can actually make a donation of this kind. That’s an important fact when you consider that platelets are the vital elements of cancer and organ transplant treatments, as well as many surgical procedures. The principal function of platelets is to aid in the clotting of blood, and prevent bleeding.
I knew I had to check it all out for myself.
It wasn’t long before I was at the blood bank, enquiring whether I was someone who could get involved. The Public Relations Officer (PRO) on duty was surprised. It was the first time someone had voluntarily offered to donate. I was equally surprised, 'why wouldn't anyone?', after all, platelets really do save lives. After an easy round of blood tests and paperwork formalities I was happy to discover I was amongst the few who could give like this. Since then, I’ve become part of a small clan of 50 odd regular platelet donors. We can take part in the process once a fortnight.
Friends and family have had mixed reactions. I’ve heard things like, ‘why should I waste 4 hours of my time every fortnight?’ to, ‘what will I get after every donation? And, ‘Is it safe?’ Some were even bold enough to say, ‘It is not safe to poke yourself with needles every fortnight, ‘who knows what sort of needles they use’; As if the people at the Blood Bank are shooting drugs every night and reusing the needles on donors.
One particular event stands out. I’d reached the blood bank on my fortnightly sojourn, and a couple of men had come in to request a few bags of blood for a patient. The blood bank PRO asked these young chaps if they would be willing to replenish the stock of blood by donating some of their own. The guys were aghast; the response was prompt and curt. ‘We’re paying for this blood. You can take whatever amount you want but nobody is ever going to poke any needles into me’. I was surprised, they’d just bought a few bags of blood that some helpful souls had donated and still ignored the value of such donations. After this encounter, my resolve to donate was even stronger.
And I don’t want to just give – I’d like to spread awareness. After all, there are no monetary benefits for my donations, but there are some meaningful benefits.
Firstly, because I donate regularly, I’m encouraged to keep fit. I dread the day when my blood report comes in short of the required number of platelets. To save myself the embarrassment I exercise regularly and eat healthy. Secondly, I get to keep a copy of my blood reports. I now have a detailed medical history of myself. Who knows when that might come handy? Also, every time I donate, my body replenishes the lost cells. That’s like keeping a machine well oiled and in use! We all know what happens to something that isn’t used for a long time. You can only replenish yourself in two ways, donate blood or get hurt and lose blood. I think the choice is pretty easy.
Last but not least, I’ve enjoyed a little fame. My 100th donation earned me a spot in The Indian Express. My hope is that the article educates readers on platelet donation, and that this blog takes it even further.
So, will you join me in this noble cause?
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