Help me pro/con donating blood or platelets in NYC during RonaDome?
May 16, 2020 3:47 PM   Subscribe

In the Time Before The Rona, I was a platelet donor, and a relatively frequent one. I'm tall and large, and I've been told that my platelet count is high, so every time I went they would always set me up for a triple donation. But I live in Brooklyn, and the only place the NY Blood Center did platelet donations in Brooklyn closed up shop last year. So I had always meant to go to one of their Manhattan locations but never did.

Now I've been getting calls and text messages about three times a week reminding me that local hospitals are facing critical shortages, but there's still no Brooklyn location to go to. So if I want to help my only options are to take the subway to Manhattan or drive out to Long Island. (I own a car.)

I'd like to help, but I'm currently riding this out with my parents, who are both over 70 and pre-diabetic (sugar controlled by several meds, but not insulin) with high-blood pressure. They don't want me to go at all. I'd like to do something useful for others, but not if it significantly increases the risk to me or especially my parents. Last week I was even called specifically because I showed up as a match for someone who needs regular platelet infusions, and I turned them down.

Can someone tell me how blood/platelet donation is being done right now? Has anyone in the NY area donated, and was it different from the usual? And which seems safer, going into Manhattan by subway or going out to Long Island? I'd like some help in weighing the pros and cons of this.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you decide to go, Long Island via car seems like the clearly superior choice. Sitting in an enclosed space with other people all the way into another borough is something I'd do my best to avoid right now.
posted by praemunire at 4:02 PM on May 16, 2020 [5 favorites]

Can you call the blood center and ask? It probably varies from place to place.

I have to go to the local cancer center for injections and lengthy infusions three out of every four weeks, and they seem to put new safety protocols in place every week. It’s very impressive, and so far I haven’t gotten sick in spite of a very compromised immune system. I do think you should rule out public transportation and also think about factors like how reliable your car is and how often you’d need to buy gas. Also, I’d personally think about how worried your parents are. Are they mildly concerned, or would this result in freaked out crying or a full-fledged panic attack? Their psychological wellness counts too.

Also, I’m one of the people who could die from the blood shortage (profound anemia from cancer). My platelets have also been going down, though it’s not too bad right now. I’ve encouraged many strangers online to give (and I’ve gotten such amazing kindness about it from MeFites), and I’m telling you that you don’t have to do this. But thanks for even looking into it.
posted by FencingGal at 5:28 PM on May 16, 2020 [10 favorites]

Platelets in NYC is a one arm aphoresis process. It takes about two hours.

I gave whole blood 6 or 7 weeks ago and am scheduled to give platelets on Monday (I defer to the person doing the work, some don’t like my veins and would rather get whole blood than risk a stopped donation.) they took my temperature before I was let in the door, and then again before donation. Hand washing was good and they had plenty of alcohol wipes, gloves and other appropriate gear.

Someone I know gave platelets 5 or so weeks ago. The facility in manhattan has since changed locations but at that time all the snack time seats were taken when he was finished donating. He ate his snack and went home. The seats were appropriately spaced.

I can update you on Monday evening if you send me a me-mail.

All that said, if I had diabetic parents at home I don’t think I would be comfortable on the subway.
posted by bilabial at 5:46 PM on May 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

If they specifically need your platelets would they also be able to potentially provide parking? I'm assuming that wouldn't usually be done but these are unusual times.
posted by raccoon409 at 7:04 PM on May 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

As long as you're quarantined with your parents, I would only go if they're both comfortable with it. Even if their fears are irrational, it's uncool to unnecessarily raise their perceived danger level without their consent.

If you go, absolutely definitely do not take the subway.
posted by waffleriot at 7:19 PM on May 16, 2020 [11 favorites]

I donated platelets at the Grand Central location at the end of March. It has since moved locations slightly, so my information is somewhat out of date, but may be useful.

My feelings were mixed on how things were being handled by NY Blood Center at that location at that time. I also note that this was before masks were required/encouraged in New York and I wasn't wearing one nor were most of the other donors. I understand that this is different now.

The Good:
Temperature check before you came in; most (though not all) staff wearing masks; attempts made to put more space between donors (though, as noted below, not totally successfully); cleansing wipes used and available; the post-donation snacks were in individuals bags and there was a one person per table rule (though there were not quite enough tables so someone ended up awkwardly standing).

The Not-So-Good:
Not all staff wearing masks/gloves; the intake interview was in a small room so I was about a foot away from the nurse administering it; although they initially had donors using every other bed/donation spot, due to a broken machine and too many donors, someone was directly next to me (about 4 feet away); the staff was not staying 6 feet away from one another; the nurse handed me a blanket in case I got cold, which wasn't wrapped in plastic, so I wasn't sure about the sterility of it.

I'm scheduled to donate again next week (at a different location, but only because of appointment availability), so the risks are okay for me. However, I live alone and can walk to the donation center, so my risks are not your risks.
posted by Caz721 at 7:14 PM on May 17, 2020

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