TV5 anchor shares experience as platelet donation recipient

Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 6:34 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - No one expects emergencies to happen to them.

House fires, car accidents, an unexpected diagnosis, those aren’t things you schedule on your calendar.

That’s where the American Red Cross comes in.

Whether it’s disaster relief or blood donations, the non-profit stays prepared so when those situations do arise, they’re ready to jump in and help.

All month long we’ve been bringing you stories that showcase the important work the Red Cross does.

As we wrap up that series, I wanted to share how services like theirs helped me and my family in our time of need.

On July 19, 2022 my husband and I welcomed our first child, Daniel John McHatten.

But this happy, healthy outcome wasn’t always guaranteed.

Hours earlier, after arriving at the hospital, I was diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening pregnancy complication called HELLP Syndrome.

The acronym stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count.

“Platelets are the tiny cells in your body that help your blood clot and stop bleeding. So for millions of Americans, they are critical in the fight and survival of cancer. The treatment of chronic illnesses, the treatment of traumatic injuries,” said Jennifer Costa, Red Cross regional communications director.

As part of my treatment I received a platelet transfusion.

It wasn’t until recently I understood all that needed to happen before the live-saving cells were going into my arm.

“In the platelet donation process, both arms are used. Blood is drawn from the first arm. It goes into a machine, a separator, which spins and separates out the platelets. They go into a sterile plastic bag, and then blood and all of your blood components like the plasma, white blood cells are returned to your other arm. That process from start to finish takes about three hours,” Costa said.

The American Red Cross is the nation’s largest collector of blood.

According to the organization, someone in this county needs platelets every 15 seconds.

The shelf life of platelets post-donation is just 5 days, making each donation critically important.

“Our platelet donors are amazing. It is a much bigger ask it’s a much bigger dedication of time, but it’s so crucial in saving lives,” Costa said.

Thankfully, in my case, the platelets did their job and my blood was able to clot properly.

After a few extra days in the hospital for observation, we were able to go home and start our lives as a family of three.

For us, it was Christmas in July, celebrated with the greatest gift we could’ve been given.

“I just encourage people to really consider during the holiday season to give the gift that doesn’t cost anything, to give the gift of life by rolling up your sleeve and donating,” Costa said.

Here in Maine, the Red Cross is only able to collect platelets at their Portland and Auburn locations.

Those donations are then shared with partner hospitals wherever they’re needed.

If you’ve ever given blood, especially platelets, my family and I want to thank you from the very bottom of our hearts.

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