Tips & Tricks for a Successful Platelet Donation

Posted: Jul 19, 2021 | Category: Latest Articles

Our Platelet Program Manager, Amy Cavender, has dug deep for some advice on making a successful platelet experience. She interviewed donors and staff to get their take on what to do before, during, and after your donation that will make the whole experience a great one. Take it away Amy!

Thanks, Eric!! A little over a year ago, I decided to try my first platelet donation. Since my blood type is A+, platelets from people with my blood type are often needed to help people in our community. I knew from talking with platelet donors that many of them have developed a lot of wisdom around ways to make the donation process as comfortable and efficient as possible, so when I was getting ready for my appointment, I asked for their advice and support. They came through with helpful advice and tons of encouragement.

Lola Marie LaRuche

  • Make sure you are well hydrated.
  • If lips tingle, ask for Cheez-its or tums. Cheez-its works for me most of the time since the act of slowly eating them helps the tingle. Calcium in the tums helps in a more scientific way.
  • Have a big glass of water to drink as you go.
  • Blankets are also a good thing because once I get cold it’s harder to get warm again. Don’t hesitate to ask for a blanket on your donation arm too.
  • Have something to watch or games to play on your phone. It doesn’t happen often but in case your phone decides to be a pest about streaming, you need a backup plan.
  • Communicate with your phlebotomists as you go. They know a ton of tricks and can use them to make things go easier. This may include adjusting the machines.
  • Most of all, remember you are trying an awesome thing and we are very proud of you.

Colleen Kraus

Find a good show that you’ve been looking forward to watching! I love my 2 hours of chilling with an exciting show!

Stephanie Powell

Wear a short-sleeved shirt and bring a jacket you can put on on the front of you instead of back, get the electric blanket, get hot chocolate and a couple of tums to chew during the returns (the anti-coagulant makes your lips a little tingly and a funny taste in your mouth) as well as a snack or 2 already open and in reach. Charge your phone and bring earbuds (I keep forgetting mine!).

Rikki Wendt Arndt

Seriously. Red wine is good if you like it.

Charles Melear

Be careful about how much water you drink for about 2 hours before the donation. Also, do a bathroom break BEFORE you get in that chair. Other than that, everything should go really well. They have cd players and headsets and DVDs there. You might want to watch a movie while you donate. Other than that, it’s a breeze.

Direct from our staff

  • A good night’s sleep the night before is great. An extended happy hour isn’t recommended.
  • Hydration is always important. It helps with circulation and can have a direct impact on how smoothly the process goes. Being dehydrated can lead to flow issues and alarms.
  • It’s good to avoid warm fluids for 15-20 minutes prior to donating so as to avoid a falsely elevated temperature during screening.
  • The other big factor is to eat well. As I used to ask our high schoolers: “You eat a good breakfast? And I ain’t talking about half a Pop-Tart and a Dr. Pepper.” Donating on an empty stomach increases the chances of having an adverse reaction.
  • At the time of the donation, I always ask if donors have any concerns/anxiety/questions. I would encourage anyone to please share any of those things with their phlebotomist.
  • Conversation is a great distraction and you’ll probably learn some cool stuff.

Here are just a few more nuggets of advice from our Donor Services folks:

  • Come in comfy clothes with something to do, read, watch, etc. Remember: You will only have 1 arm available to use, so don’t plan on doing any 2-arm activities during the donation.
  • Drink LOTS of fluids in the 24 hours prior to donation as it just makes your veins poufy and phlebotomy easier. Remember, you will be stuck in a chair for about 2 hours, so lay off those liquids in the hour or so immediately prior to your donation time.
  • You can eat/drink during the donation, so feel free to bring your own snacks. We have some available too.
  • Ask lots of questions when you are here…what are we doing, why are we doing it, what am I going to feel, what is that beeping sound, why is that machine so dang loud! Our staff love to show off their knowledge and you knowing what is happening is going to make it a smoother donation.
  • Know that you are doing something great and while it isn’t a traditional type of “fun”, it shouldn’t be unpleasant either, so tell us immediately if you are feeling weird.