I used to be a blood donor but since last July I have become an apheresis donor. Every two weeks I drive 80 km into Ottawa to donate platelets - with a plasma donation every 56 days. Yesterday was my 13th platelet donation - bringing my total number of donations, including whole blood, to 146. I am allowed to make 24 donations a year. I intend to keep it up for at least 3 years.
Why do I do it?
Well, the easy answer is because so few people do. The apheresis program in Canada was started in 1980 as a way of obtaining blood products, primarily plasma, separate from whole blood to be used in the treatment of some illnesses. At that time, it was thought that plasma exchange might be of benefit in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and breast cancer. There is also a big demand for platelets. Patients with prolonged bleeding associated with some diseases (e.g. cancer) need large quantities of platelets as part of their treatment. I have recently learned that plasma is used in the treatment of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
But the main reason I do it is for myself.