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Old 02-17-2007, 02:14 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: The Sunflower State
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Blood donation: double red cell donation?

We have a blood drive coming up at work next week. The other day I got a call from an employee of the blood center asking if I would be interested in a new procedure, which I think she called a "double red cell donation". She explained that there is a machine they hook you up to and they extract two units worth of red blood cells while pumping the plasma (and some saline) back into you. The benefit for them is that they get the equivalent of two units of blood, which is good for them since they are very low on my blood type right now.

My question is, has anyone else done this type of blood donation? What should I expect from the experience? I assume it will take longer than a normal donation, and they said I couldn't donate again for sixteen weeks rather than the usual eight. Any other side-effects I should be aware of or concerned about?
Old 02-17-2007, 04:26 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Chicago's Northside
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When I did it, they called it ALYX. Other than it taking a little longer and a different but not unpleasant feeling, it was business as usual. The different arm feel is because after they extract the red cells, they have to pump the rest back in. I'd describe it as a light pressure from in my arm. Go for it. They seem to want the red cells, anyway.

Last edited by jnglmassiv; 02-17-2007 at 04:27 PM. Reason: coding
Old 02-18-2007, 02:39 AM
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Location: Lisle, IL
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I just did this on Friday (third time for me). It takes a little longer than a normal blood donation, but generally I feel more comfortable doing ALYX than the traditional way. They use a smaller needle, which does not hurt as much as the normal one. Having the plasma and saline pumped back in also makes for an easier recovery, since restoring blood volume occurs immediately instead of over the next day as you increase your fluid intake. Only once did I experience some discomfort, where my lips tingled (a sign of calcium depletion) but that was easily remedied with some Tums.

If you've got the time, I would definitely go for ALYX.
Old 02-18-2007, 02:37 PM
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I did this for the first time a couple of weeks ago. There were a lot of posters up about it at the blood bank. Perhaps there is some sort of national push going on.

Most of the important points have been mentioned, but here are a few others:
  • You need higher iron levels than for a regular donation. They check it in a centrifuge instead of dropping it into the blue stuff.
  • It does take longer. Figure on at least 45 minutes plus the normal time for sitting around consuming cookies and juice afterwards.
  • Some anti-coagulant is included when they return the plasma and saline. This is what interacts with calcium and causes the lip tingling. As Aestivalis said, munching a few Tums makes it stop immediately.
  • The fluid being returned is room temperature and feels pretty cold going in. At my blood bank they offset this somewhat by putting an electric blanket on the chair.
  • The double unit is safer for recipients, as there are fewer risk factors than there would be from transfusing blood from two different donors.
  • It counts as two donations, so if your blood bank gives out prizes you don't lose anything by donating this way.
Overall the experience was fine. I will definitely do it again next time.
Old 02-18-2007, 11:46 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: On the football field
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I did the Alyx donation late last year, and the experience is pretty much like has been described previously.

However, with that said, I don't think I'd do it again. I apparently experienced all of the possible side-effects, including a tingling sensation (which I had in my feet, my fingers, and on my face. Not bad, basically just one of those pins-and-needles sensations you get when your foot falls asleep), and a weird metallic taste in my mouth (counteracted by some calcium chewy thingies, I think I went through about 7 of them).

After the donation, it seemed to take me about 3 weeks to get back up to full strength when I was working out. Now, I do pretty strenuous cardio workouts, so most people probably wouldn't notice the effect nearly as much as I did, but still, when I do regular blood donations, I usually get all the endurance back within about 2-3 days, so this was a pretty big difference to me.

YMMV, of course, and I'll resume regular blood donations again next time the bloodmobile shows up at work, but I'll avoid the Alyx machine.
Old 02-19-2007, 01:40 AM
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
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I've done this donation every time I go in for the last two years. I always need Tums to make the lip tingling go away, but it's no big deal. The first time I did it, the room temperature saline going back in felt very strange, like ice being pumped into my arm, except not actually that cold. It wasn't entirely unpleasant, just unexpected.

I do it because they seem to need it, and because going in once every four months is way more convenient than going in every 2 months.
Old 02-19-2007, 03:10 AM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 3,584
I've done the double red-cell donation, and it was fine, except that I was freezing for hours afterwards (I'm a real wimp about cold anyway). Like jweb, I do strenuous workouts (some of them as an instructor), but I never noticed any decline in endurance after the donations.

Lately, my blood donation center has been asking me to do a different type of donation - I believe they collect two (or more?) units of plasma and one unit of red blood cells. I prefer the double red-cell method, since it means I don't have to come back for 16 weeks, but I always give them whatever it is they want most.
Old 02-19-2007, 11:49 AM
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Flatlander in NH
Posts: 24,803
Originally Posted by InternetLegend
Lately, my blood donation center has been asking me to do a different type of donation - I believe they collect two (or more?) units of plasma and one unit of red blood cells. I prefer the double red-cell method, since it means I don't have to come back for 16 weeks, but I always give them whatever it is they want most.
In apheresis, they take platelets and/or plasma and/or red blood cells. When I've done it, they've been most interested in the platelets. It's the same idea as above, with the blood pumped out, spun and the product(s) removed, and the blood returned with anti-coagulant. For a double bag of platelets I've sat at the machine for maybe 70 minutes. I won't go into some of the ways it didn't work out, because if you're not a hard stick you should be fine.

Last edited by gigi; 02-19-2007 at 11:49 AM.
Old 02-19-2007, 12:12 PM
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Location: The Sunflower State
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Thanks all, especially for the tip on the Tums.

In the email they sent out at work about the blood drive, it appears they are using "Alyx" and "DRC2" interchangeably. When the woman first called and asked me about it, I wasn't really paying attention to what she called it, because I thought she was just calling to ask if I wanted to schedule a donation, since I hadn't done the on-line registration for this blood drive. Once she started in with the lengthy explanation about the DRC2, I got to wondering what I had gotten myself into!
Old 02-19-2007, 03:53 PM
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Flatlander in NH
Posts: 24,803
Our room also has Viactiv, a calcium chew that is like a caramel or chocolate chewy candy. Those are more fun than Tums.
Old 02-20-2007, 11:57 AM
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: 42/F/FL/Married, w/cats
Posts: 7,157
I do regular platelet donations (every two weeks) myself. It's much as described for the red-blood cell donation. jweb, if you're interested in doing something like this, you'll find platelet donation much easier for you to recover your strength, because you lose very few red blood cells.

Additionally, as Numbers explained about the red-cell donation, platelet donation is also safer for the recipient. Whole blood is processed into red cells, white cells, plasma and platelets. In a single unit of whole blood, they only get 1/8 of a dose of platelets, which has to be combined with 7 other 1/8 doses from 7 other people. That's 8 times the number of chance for the recipient to react to something in the dose they get, compared to a dose of platelets from a single donor.

Whether you donate whole blood, platelets, plasma, red cells or whatever, you're doing an awesome, awesome thing.

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