Treating People Well by Giving Back – Catherine’s Story

By Buffalo Medical Group | April 2 2018 | Patient Testimonials

April marks Donate Life month – a month dedicated to encouraging people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and to celebrate those that have saved lives through the gift of donation. This month, we’re celebrating Catherine Dobson, Application Specialist at Buffalo Medical Group, and sharing her story in hopes that her donation efforts will inspire others.

Catherine attended a blood drive about 10 years ago, where she told she had strong platelets, and should consider becoming a donor.  At the time, Catherine didn’t think much of it. Fast forward to August, 2016, when Buffalo Medical Group was holding its own blood drive, and was specifically seeking out platelet and plasma donors. It was at this time when Catherine realized she would start to donate consistently.

“I didn’t really have a reason. I didn’t know anyone in need of platelets or plasma, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was a simple way for me to give back, and positively impact peoples lives.”

What’s unique about platelets is that they have a very short shelf life, only five days, which is why we are in constant need for them. Platelets are needed by cancer patients, those receiving organ or bone marrow transplants, victims of traumatic injuries, and patients undergoing open heart surgery. Plasma on the other hand has a shelf life of almost one year, and is most commonly used to help individuals who suffer from hemophilia, or other blood clotting disorders.

Catherine explained it takes about three hours total, from the time she arrives to the donation location, to when she is able to leave. In order to get plasma and platelets, whole blood is removed from your body, run through a centrifuge, and returned back to you. Both the draw and the return are both done on the same arm, so there’s no need to get stuck by a needle more than once.

Centrifuging is the process of taking whole blood, and spinning it to separate red blood cells from platelets and plasma. For those worried that this is a painful process, Catherine assures them, “You only experience mild discomfort. It’s no more painful than donating whole blood.”

Although you can extract plasma from a whole blood donation, the amount of plasma you are able to obtain is much less than a plasma donation on its own. It takes six whole blood donations to provide enough platelets for a single transfusion. However, one platelet donation, you will be able to donate enough for one transfusion.

Catherine does all of her donations with Unyts – an organ, eye, tissue and blood donation organization – and loves working with them.

“Unyts is a completely local organization – so I know when I’m making a donation, it’s going to someone in our community. It’s a great feeling to know you’re helping out one of our neighbors here in Western New York.”

She also said their online scheduling is very easy to use. “I schedule my appoints out for the entire year. This helps keep me accountable, and work around my schedule.”  You are able to donate platelets every two weeks, and Catherine tries to stick to this schedule. She donated over 14 times last year, and hopes to do the same this year.

If you are interested in becoming a donor of any kind, and would like to learn more, we encourage you to visit Unyts.org, to get information on the donation eligibility process, donation locations, how to register as an organ donor, and much more.