Will I Get Help?

The blood center called mid-morning from the university. ‘Can you come over soon for a platelet donation? We have an 11 am appt. open.’

‘No. Do you have some later times?’

‘How about 2:30?’

I agreed to that and put a note on the table so I wouldn’t forget. It had only been 4 weeks since my last donation. They usually call me after 8 weeks. They must have some special needs today.

I checked in at the desk, showed an ID, went to reception room #2 and answered the 48 question form. Nurse Tim came in to get me started with a finger prick, BP, temperature, pulse, etc. He was chatty today. I like Tim. He is kind of weird. He needed to check my blood sample and told me to use the restroom and get a drink and snack. He would meet me in a few minutes.

While doing my duty in the restroom, I noticed a string coming out the wall with a small sign that said ‘Pull if you need help.’ I wondered if it ever gets used. Finished up and went back to meet with Tim.

Platelet donation, for anyone who doesn’t know, involves drawing blood from your arm, then sending it to a bedside machine the size of a kitchen stove to be spun rapidly in a centrifuge. It separates several blood components. They keep the parts needed and give back the rest to your arm. It cycles that way many times over the course of the hour to hour and a half you are connected to the machine.

Wikimedia Commons

At the end of my 80 minutes, nurse Tim removed the needle, bandaged me, and checked my BP again. That’s when I asked him about the string in the restroom. ‘If I pulled the string, would I get help?’

He looked at me kind funny and told me that someone did that last week. He told of a woman in her 80s who was receiving blood product instead of donating. She got part way through the procedure and needed to use the restroom. Her daughter went into the room with her after she was disconnected from the tubes, etc. She tried hard to use the restroom, but couldn’t. In fact, she started to lose consciousness. They pulled the string. Nurse Tim and others showed up immediately.

They got her stable and back to the bed. Tim was not going to send her and her daughter home. They couldn’t risk that happening again in a dangerous situation. She had an appointment with her doctor later in the day at the university. Tim called her doctor so he could decide what was best. He decided to get her into the ER. The ER sent people over to the blood center, checked her over, and took her back on the gurney to the ER.

Tim told me that he later found out they discovered she had a several inch long tear in her colon and pounds of material that was removed. She was doing pretty well, considering.

Pulling that string probably saved her life.


13 thoughts on “Will I Get Help?

  1. I donated blood in the Netherlands as soon as I was old enough but have not been able to do so here because of BSE risk (mad cow disease). Even though I have not eaten any cow meat for 20+ years…

  2. That’s great you do that. Interesting how in this day and age there’s still no replacement for actual body parts. Unfortunately I am not able to donate blood because I had malaria (several times) when I was living in Kenya for a few years, even tho that was back in the ’70s. I’ve read the chances it remains that long are very slim but I guess you can’t be too careful, even when the need is great.

  3. Okay, next time I’ll pull the string. I tend not to pull strings. You’re very brave, btw. I would not want to be pricked by a needle and be attached to a machine for an hour. That’s too scary!

    • After 60-70 times you get used to it. The nursing staff are always there to pass the time with you. You just have to remember to do things with one hand. 🙂

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