Matt's Story

Photograph of Matt

"My chance to help save even more lives!"

Platelets are tiny cells that help blood to clot. Without them, some patients risk haemorrhaging and even death. Here Birmingham blood donor, Matt Croxall explains what happened when he decided to become a platelet donor.

"At my fifth whole blood donation, I was asked if I was interested in becoming a component donor," says Birmingham blood donor, Matt Croxall. "I thought why not? Platelets are in huge demand by patients, and because they only have a five-day shelf life, new platelet donors are always needed. "The first step started there and then at the session. Along with the routine blood samples another sample was taken to measure my platelet count. Component donors need to have an average or higher platelet count so that enough can be collected from each donation to make two to three adult doses. Around one in two whole blood donors who are tested are eligible.

"After my initial platelet count sample, I was invited back to Birmingham Donor Centre to be told what would happen. I was taken around the centre and shown how the cell separator machines work. I'd be hooked up to it for about 90 minutes while it extracted my platelets and returned the rest of my blood back to me. After chatting to some of the other component donors, I knew that if my platelet count results were high enough it was something I just had to do. Soon after, I received a letter stating I was eligible to donate, so I made an appointment to give my first platelet donation. When the big day arrived I was pretty nervous, but knowing that I was going to help save lives settled my nerves. It also helped knowing I would be able to watch England play in The Ashes! Component donors can watch TV and DVDs, read, make calls from mobile phones and even use their laptops. "At the centre, I followed the same booking-in and confidential health check process I do when donating blood. Then it was time to go to my bed. There various data, including my weight and platelet count, were put into the cell separator machine. This then cleverly calculated that I would be on the machine for 76 minutes.

"I was offered the option of having a local anaesthetic injection so that I wouldn't feel the needle throughout the donation period. I immediately accepted. I was concerned that I might feel woozy, but I was reassured that only a tiny amount of anaesthetic is given. "I hardly felt a thing when the needle was inserted, and I started to relax. The staff kept checking and asking me if I was okay, and offered refreshments. They also said that if I started to feel different at all then I was to let them know so that they could make adjustments to the cell separator machine. "After 76 tense minutes of watching Australia doing far too well for my liking, the machine began bleeping. This was the sign that the donation was finished. The needle was taken out and, again, I didn't really feel a thing. "In total, I donated 419ml of straw-coloured liquid: a double adult dose or 12 infant doses of my very own platelets! It was really amazing to think that this innocuous- looking liquid is life-saving. I felt incredibly proud and rather special because not all whole blood donors are eligible to become component donors. "I must admit, it was a great chance to sit down and put my feet up whilst doing something worthwhile. I'll definitely be back and I plan to donate every month. I might even bring some work to do!"

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