Today was a great day for me. As soon as I was diagnosed with the coronavirus, I decided I would use it for whatever good I could. As I was going through it, that became sharing my journey to help eliminate a good deal of the fear that was associated with the condition. I did that with posts on my website as well as my YouTube channel (Neil Panosian). I was able to discuss things I was going through with several news agencies as well as individuals across the globe.
While going through recovery, I saw on the news that people who had recovered were able to donate their antibodies via their plasma. In return, doctors were able to give those antibodies to 3 critically ill patients in an effort to assist their own immune systems. I knew right away that this was something I wanted to do. The way that I looked at it was if I was fortunate enough to make it through, it would be my responsibility to do what I can to help others still struggling. I would love to share my journey with this process as well as some advice and words of wisdom from the wonderful folks at the Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin, where I donated.
As soon as I discovered that I would be able to help others out by donating my blood, I reached out to Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin. This began what turned out to be a far longer journey than I anticipated. The first thing that I was told is that I could not sign up to donate blood, rather it had to come through my doctor. I quickly sent an email off to my doctor and asked him if he would speak to the blood center about taking my blood once I had recovered. This was around the 20th of March. My doctor placed a call and waited for a return call. In the meantime, I focused on getting better.
After a week of recovering I placed an additional phone call to the blood center as I had not heard back from them, nor had my doctor. I was assisted by a helpful lady named Jamie. She informed me that the information must not have been properly recorded the first time around. She also explained that in order to donate one of two conditions had to exist. Either I would have to be symptom free for 14 days and then be tested again to make sure I was negative. This was toward the end of March when tests were not really available. The second option was that it would have been at least 28 days after I had been declared symptom free. She also sent me a form for my doctor to fill out and return as well as one for myself to fill out. Being that my doctor was not open for seeing patients, I had to get this form to him virtually. This was turning out to be a bit more of an adventure than I thought.
After much back and forth with forms I was cleared to donate. The scheduling department called and we set it up for the first Monday available. That is my day off from the Post Office and I decided it would be best in case I needed to recover. It was recommended I have someone drive me in case I had a bad time with the procedure. I had donated plasma once before and became light-headed. My mother, who donates blood regularly, volunteered to go with me. When we entered the building we were greeted by what I can only describe as a stern woman. She informed us we were not wearing masks. ( a fact we were already aware of) She looked dismayed and informed my mother she would either have to wait in the car or put on a mask. I was provided with one and told to wash my hands before signing in.
From there on the procedure was really a breeze. A young lady named Natalia took me to a room to get some vitals and answer some personal questions. Not only was this lady very high energy, she was extremely nice and helpful. The questions were designed to make sure I was able to donate. They were given on a touch screen and only took about 3 minutes. Once I was finished Natalia took me to the chair I was to donate my plasma in. Very comfy and in a slightly reclining position.
From here on out I was to be assisted by a wonderful young lady named Marie. I could not ask for a more perfect person to help me. Not only was she helpful and reassuring, but explained every thing that was going to transpire. I am not sure if she was aware how eager I am to know what things are happening to me in a situation like this, but it was very interesting to me. Marie explained that throughout the procedure blood would be taken out of me, the plasma spun out and the red blood cells and other material pumped back in. This was good to know as last time I donated it happened all at once. She explained what everything on screen meant. This included whether the machine was drawing blood from me or putting it back into me. Other information such as how much plasma had been donated, and long I had been there and how long was left to go. Having all of this information made the procedure a lot easier. As far as actually being hooked up to the machine, Marie took care of this flawlessly as well. The needle being stuck into my arm really didn’t hurt at all and was taped up and ready to go in what seemed like an incredibly quick amount of time. Roughly 40 minutes later I was good to go. Unlike the first time I donated, I felt ready to go as soon as the needle was out of my arm.
Some words of wisdom from our friends at Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin as relayed to me by Marie. Yes, you should come with a mask, although one will be supplied if you do not have one. The secret to donating and being ready is hydrating properly the day before. It also is advised to eat a good sized nutritional meal before hand. A few weeks prior, a coworker of mine was told his appointment to donate blood was canceled. I asked Marie about this and she informed me that due to elective surgeries being postponed or canceled, the need had dipped at that time. I inquired where the need stood now. I was informed that surgeries were starting to be scheduled once again and that they anticipated needing 900 units in the coming weeks. It goes without saying that if you are able to donate blood it is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to your fellow humans.
In conclusion, I wish to thank the wonderful folks at the Greenfield location of Versiti Blood Center for being so helpful and informative. The procedure was as close as you can get to being painless. Other than having to use the restroom from over hydrating before my arrival it was comfortable too. They had ESPN on the television and plenty of fun music playing in the background. I encourage everyone to seek out a location to donate if you are able. I ask you encourage friends to do the same. If you are someone who has recovered from coronavirus or COVID-19, please consider making a plasma donation. It is painless for you and each donation can help the lives of up to 3 critical patients.