Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Platelets Work Like Magic

Until recently I didn't think much about platelets - who does? I knew that they were a component of my blood and that they were responsible for clotting the blood. When I cut myself it didn't occur to me that my platelets would fail -- everytime, they rose to the challenge and the cut became a scab. My kids all fell off bikes, scraped their knees and elbows and played sports - every cut, scrape and nosebleed healed miraculously.

During a bone marrow transplant, platelet counts drop to critical levels. A normal count is 150–400 x 109/L. Yesterday morning Eric's platelets were 18. He has a standing order for platelet transfusion when they hit 10. So when he had a nosebleed late last night, we were very concerned. And sure enough, there were not enough platelets circulating, the nosebleed continued and we had to head in to the hospital for a unit of platelets. Here's where it works like magic... Within 15 minutes of the start of the platelet infusion, that nasty (yes, as bad as you imagine) noseblood suddenly stopped. The donated platelets had found their way to the bleed and went to work. Eric was back home and in bed within a couple of hours.

And there is more. As a transplant patient, Eric must receive single donor platelets. That means that a wonderful person spent a couple of hours hooked up to the apherisis machine sometime within the last 5 days and donated platelets. I understand that most major blood donation centers have the ability to collect platelet donations -- please consider helping this magic continue for everyone who needs blood products.

Did you know? (I didn't!)
- A bone marrow transplant patient may need up to 120 units of platelets.
- Your body will replace the donated platelets within 72 hours.
- If you meet the requirements for donating blood, you probably can give platelets.
- Because platelets can be stored for only five days, the need for platelet donations is vast and continuous.

Monday's (Day 10) Blood Counts
WBC 0.1 (they don't report anything lower than this)
Hgb 89 / 81 after nosebleed and platelets
Platelets 18 / 34 after platelet transfusion


Veronica said...

Wow! There I was, thinking I was an expert on Stem Cell Transplants and I find myself fascinated with the information I'm learning from you - thank-you!!

Glad to hear everything is still being dealt with so well - your hospital is certainly keeping a close eye on things and acting when they need to - that must give you great confidence....love and hugs as always..........Vx

Anonymous said...

Amazing! I am so glad to hear that Eric is doing well!