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“It’s a powerful thing to be able to share life with a child.”
Many people are familiar with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, but not everyone realizes the huge impact St. Jude has made in cancer research and in children’s lives. I tell everyone I can that they have the ability to share life with a child by donating platelets at the St. Jude Blood Donor Center.
During the last nine years, I’ve donated platelets at St. Jude more than 125 times. It is a huge privilege to be able to give back, and I feel like I’m one of the biggest beneficiaries.
At first when I started donating, I was a little nervous. When I was young and the polio vaccine came out, I passed out three times just waiting in line to get it. So I thought donating just wasn’t for me.
Still, I went to St. Jude to donate because our church was encouraging us to give. I told the nurse, “Get all you can, because I’m not coming back!” But she made me comfortable and did a wonderful job. Several months later, I went back one more time. Then once more.
The real turning point for me came on that third day. A nurse came in and said, “We want your permission to rush your platelets through processing.” I asked, “Why would you do that?”
She replied, “We have a 7-day-old baby with leukemia who needs platelets immediately, and yours will be rushed into this child.”
After that, I never argued with myself about going back. It’s a powerful thing to be able to share life with a child. Right now, in fact, my platelets are a perfect match for a particular child, and are designated just for him. When you know that a child may have a healthy day because you came here, how can you stay away?
The staff at St. Jude do everything they can to make the donation process easy. The process is simple. You can park in VIP blood donor spaces right by the hospital entrance. They start you off with an interview, and check your blood pressure and heart rate. If you ask, they’ll do a cholesterol check. Then you sign your paperwork, grab your little ball to squeeze, and go for it!
The nurses are marvelous—very attentive and professional. They make you feel comfortable.
You can pass the time enjoyably by watching a movie, which I did when I first started donating. Now I just relax in my easy chair and take the opportunity to study and read.
After I donate, I always feel wonderful. It’s a pure blessing to drive out of there and know that I’ve done something that will help a child. You can donate platelets every two weeks, and I hope to keep on doing it until I don’t have platelets to give.
Every day St. Jude performs about 15 to 25 platelet transfusions for children undergoing treatment at the hospital. If the St. Jude Blood Donor Center does not have enough donated platelets, it must purchase them at a cost of $500 to $700 per unit. By donating platelets at St. Jude, you can help a child while helping the hospital save money. If you plan to be in the Memphis area, why not consider making an appointment to donate? Simply call (901) 595-2024 or dial toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (278-5833), ext. 2024. The Blood Donor Center is open from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday.