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View Full Version : Donating plasma--should I continue to try?


merrily
03-30-2008, 12:42 PM
(No, not TVs. Sorry.)

I am AB+, which is relatively rare and the perfect blood type for donating plasma, so I made an appointment and went to donate.

However, I have small veins, at least at the elbows. (Chronic issue whenever I need blood taken--you can see the darn blue lines all the way up the arm, and then they disappear just when you need them.) After a lot of checking, they finally tried the right side, and found a vein, but it wasn't whatever enough for the return. So they tried the left side, and fell for the tendon-that-feels-like-a-vein (I did warn them, but I think they were frustrated at that point).

So they sent me home, since both arms had been tried.

Is there any point in trying again? If I wasn't such a good blood type for it, I wouldn't bother, but it feels like a waste to have something a bit rare and not use it.

Is there somewhere else reasonable they could try?

Boyo Jim
03-30-2008, 01:49 PM
I have this very same problem, and I have been poked several times on the same visit because they couldn't find veins. This happened both for donations and for blood draws ordered by my doc for tests. And this was a problem for me for many years.

Until recently, when a nurse told me a solution that works very well for me. Start drinking lots of water 48 hours ahead of time. I have not had a single problem (or more accurately, the techs haven't) since I started following this advice.

Note -- 24 hours may not be enough, make sure to drink a lot starting 2 days ahead and continuing up to the draw.

Joey P
03-30-2008, 04:33 PM
Sometimes it just takes a different nurse/phlebotomist. (From what I understand) My MIL is one of those people. After you've poked someone 15 times trying to get a vein, she can nail it in one. She's been a nurse for over 30 years, and from what I've been told, she's always been the goto person when you need a vein found. So maybe next time ask for another nurse.

merrily
03-30-2008, 04:38 PM
I tend to be well hydrated, but I'll pay attention next time more specifically. Perhaps I'll try one more time, making sure to drink a LOT for two days.

(I'll go on a different day, too, which should get me a different person.)

Then I'll give up.....

Thanks for the ideas.

ZenBeam
03-30-2008, 05:35 PM
Maybe you could mention your veins are hard to find, and see if you can get the "goto person" first.

The Them
03-30-2008, 08:02 PM
No cites here, though I'm sure Wiki has it. All from personal experience/chats with nurses.

AB+ is the worst for whole blood donation, because it can't be given to anyone but another AB+. O- is the ideal for whole blood, which anyone can take. (I'm O+, and have scars in my elbows from all them needles; they like me).

Plasma- matters little if any. The vein-size issue is all you (the phlebotomists) care about, because of the return function on the centrifuge thingies. The same, or something similar, applies to getting an IV. Hydrate like crazy for a day or two, and do the right thing! :)

merrily
03-31-2008, 07:04 AM
I ALWAY ask for the best one, and explain why! I've found that they rarely believe me until they fail once themself, no matter what kind of medical facility it is. The record so far is four attempts.

I must just not be credible.

AB+ is the universal recipient, as you said, so my whole blood is only useful to give to other AB+ people (but we can actually receive blood from any type, so no need for our specific type.)

Howver, AB+ is the universal donor for plasma -- it works exactly in the reverse for plasma and blood. (For plasma, for example, type 0 can only receive plasma from type 0.)

We are just over 3% of the U.S. population.

Wikipedia explains it better -- the main article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_type)


Here is the chart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_type#Red_blood_cell_compatibility) for red blood cell capatibility


Now comapre this with the chart for plasma capatibility (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_type#Plasma_compatibility)

WhyNot
03-31-2008, 07:16 AM
I ALWAY ask for the best one, and explain why! I've found that they rarely believe me until they fail once themself, no matter what kind of medical facility it is. The record so far is four attempts.

I must just not be credible.
Nah, I think it's just that they hear it 100 times a day. Everyone thinks they're a hard stick, and most of them aren't. While you may be a hard stick, if they keep bugging the goto gal for everyone who walks in the door claiming to be a hard stick, the rest of the phlebotomists (or nurses) might as well go home. Gotta try it first, or Flo is gonna be pissed you're calling her again.

Don't take it personally, in other words. Since other people lie (or just don't know the truth), you can't be trusted.

Swallowed My Cellphone
03-31-2008, 09:50 AM
I ALWAY ask for the best one, and explain why! I've found that they rarely believe me until they fail once themself, no matter what kind of medical facility it is. The record so far is four attempts.If you go to the same donation center each time, can you request that they put a note in your file? I go to the same place once a month, and the staff knows me by first name. They also keep notes in my file and have some note about my left arm being too lousy to even try to stick.

Cluricaun
03-31-2008, 10:58 AM
I refuse to donate plasma because I know they're just using it to make cheaper televisions. What?

irishgirl
03-31-2008, 01:43 PM
It doesn't matter where the vein is as long as it is big and valve free.
There is usually a big vein on the radial border of the wrist (the thumb side), that's the one I'd go for personally.

The things I've learnt about taking blood.

1. Do warn me if you're difficult, I appreciate the heads up, and when I get it first time we'll both be stoked.

2. Be creative- look at the hands, the feet, the upper arms, the neck, the wrists. The antecubital fossa (inside of the elbow) is not the only place with veins. I've got wide bore venflons into the foot and the hand before.

3. Feel for veins, don't look for them. The ones you can feel are better than the ones you can't.

4. What the nurses consider to be "bad veins" is not the same as what I consider to be "bad veins". Knowing you can call a doctor to do it for you makes your threshold for giving up a lot lower. I have to keep trying til I get it because if I can't I have to call an aneasthetist, and they are not happy bunnies if you call them for trivial stuff like that.

5. If all else fails, a GTN patch, a warm washcloth and dangling the limb over the edge of the bed will usually work.

The Them
03-31-2008, 02:46 PM
Thank you, merrily. Seems I was misinformed.

Nars Glinley
03-31-2008, 03:18 PM
I tend to be well hydrated, but I'll pay attention next time more specifically. Perhaps I'll try one more time, making sure to drink a LOT for two days.

(I'll go on a different day, too, which should get me a different person.)

Then I'll give up.....

Thanks for the ideas.
I'm a tough stick too. Try to keep your arm as still as is humanly possible once it's been marked. Good luck.

ShermanAter
03-31-2008, 04:04 PM
I am a hard stick and they usually listen to me and try the back of he hand.

merrily
03-31-2008, 06:37 PM
Thanks, irishgirl, I had to look up gtn patch (medication for angina).

ShermanAter, doesn't that hurt like crazy? I had it done in the hand once (that was the fourth place tried) and it really hurt. But then again, these were the incompetent team since it was the fourth try....

irishgirl
04-01-2008, 02:46 AM
Anywhere with more subcutaneous fat will hurt slightly less than anywhere with less fat, it's still in the "ow" range rather than the "AWW" range though.

I have good veins and used to let my med student class mates practice on me. I've had blood taken and venflons put in my hands, feet, and arms by possibly the least skilled people on the planet. It's not that bad. I understand needle phobics having issues with blood draws, everyone else...really it's not that bad.

But then, I've drawn my own blood when I was sick, because I reckon my own one handed technique was probably still going to be better than the person who was the alternative (but thats because I know them and exactly how often they asked me to help them with failed blood samples).

if they really can't find a vein, they'll ultrasound you. That's almost failsafe.

janis_and_c0
04-01-2008, 03:03 AM
Thanks, irishgirl, I had to look up gtn patch (medication for angina).

ShermanAter, doesn't that hurt like crazy? I had it done in the hand once (that was the fourth place tried) and it really hurt. But then again, these were the incompetent team since it was the fourth try....
Being stuck in the hand hurts a great deal less than the nurse digging around in your arm for five minitues and a bruise in the crook of your elbow that is 2 inches wide...

Lynne_kilii
04-01-2008, 11:38 AM
At least at my blood center (YMMV, of course, of course), we don't have access to gtn patches, we're required to use the antecubital fossa, and we don't have acess to ultrasound. But we will tell you to definately hydrate for 48 hours prior to coming in. Doubling your fluid intake is easily the best thing you can do to help us find your veins. The longer you donate, the more you'll know where your good veins are. I know I have one, and only one. I can feel when they're above it- the 'bounce' beneath your skin changes, and that happened long before I started this as a job. Even good techs have bad days, so I'd say go back and give them another try, but be firm that you need someone with A LOT of experience. The good news is that it is our job to handle these needles and these situations. We get good, and we get good fast.

merrily
04-01-2008, 01:40 PM
Thanks, esp. to Lynne K.

I'll try to hydrate more, and I'l try one more time.

(and hang my hand down, etc.....)

Lynne_kilii
04-02-2008, 12:11 AM
Not a prob. Let us know how it goes, eh?

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