Sunday, February 10, 2013

Plasmapheresis

This is a plasmapheresis machine.  Yes, I'm sure that's the technical name for it.  I've had lots of questions lately about what plasmapheresis is, and how it's done.  This is actually one of the older machines (that I prefer).  They have a newer machine that's supposed to be more effective.  Not sure how that could be since it does the very same thing.

So.  Here's the procedure:
 
I have to go to the hospital for treatments every 4-6 weeks (Hope this doesn’t gross you out)…they use big ol’ needles, one in each arm.  One arm is the “draw” arm, where the machine takes the blood out.  Then it runs through the machine, and the machine spins out the plasma in the blood. The machine spins the plasma out of MY blood, and puts something called albumin in my blood.  This is a liquid made up of several hundreds of donors who have donated plasma like to the Red Cross or at a blood drive or whatever.  Then that blood, with the new albumin in it, goes back into my body through the needle in my other arm.  It takes about 1 ½ hours hooked up to the machine, and I feel pretty lousy the rest of that day and the following day, then I feel better.  I should have at least two treatments at a time (with one day in between treatments).

I am BLESSED to be able to use my arm veins. I've been using them for 11 years.  That's a miracle, really.  Most people who get plasmapheresis have to have a catheter put in every time they have a series of treatments, and many of those have to STAY in the hospital.

I used to go to Ann Arbor once every 3 weeks for only one treatment, and it wasn't doing any good.  Kept me alive, I guess that's good...but I wasn't improving. If anything I was getting worse.  The stress of the drive both ways took away any benefit I was receiving from the actual treatment.  Now, because of a wonderful reunion with an old friend (thanks to facebook), I go to a local hospital, and can get a treatment done in one afternoon.  

My new/old friend used to live next door to me when I was little.  She also worked at St. Mary's hospital and KNEW that they did plasmapheresis because she worked in the unit where it was done, and told me who to call and everything.  What a direct blessing from God!!

So anyway.  That's pheresis.  If you have any questions, I'd LOVE for you to ask away!  

Oh, one final thing.  If you ARE able to donate plasma, PLEASE do it at the Red Cross or another reputable blood donation center.  The places where you can go to get paid to donate plasma are independent businesses who profit from that plasma.  It is NOT used for people like me who need it to live.  It's sold overseas for exorbitant amounts of money, and is used in things like cosmetics.  No lie.  So PLEASE investigate and be aware of where you donate.

For those of you who DO donate, THANK YOU!!  I'm literally alive because of YOU.  

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