I work in the clinical trial travel logistics department at Colpitts World Travel, where we provide travel and expense management for patients who are participating in clinical trials all around the world. Every day I see what an important role volunteers and research play in changing people’s lives and the field of medicine. Not long after I started at Colpitts, my younger sister informed me that the American Red Cross had an emergency need for blood donors, and she asked if I would be willing to donate with her. I agreed, as I had yet to donate blood before, while my younger sister has been donating for almost four years.
My first experience donating blood proved to be very rewarding and gave me a great sense of doing good for others. Afterward, I was inspired to learn more about the benefits of giving blood and found out that not only does it benefit other people in need, but also the donors. Some of the health benefits I learned about include lower iron levels, as well as reduced risk of cancer, heart and liver ailments. But while researching, I found out that platelet donations are also very important. As it turns out, there was also an emergency need for platelets at the time. Motivated by my first blood donation experience and by my dad, who has been donating platelets for 10 years, I decided that next I would donate platelets, despite the fact that it involves a bit more commitment.
What I learned while completing my research shocked me. According to www.redcrossblood.org, cancer patients are in need of platelet donations regularly. While going through treatment, their platelet count is low, and this robs them of their energy and strength. A platelet transfusion could be the difference between life and death, not just for people with cancer, but also for anyone with a blood disorder or someone recovering from a serious injury or surgery.
So a month after giving blood, I went to the nearest American Red Cross center for my first platelet donation. First, I had a brief health history questionnaire that’s typical of any donation, and then I was seated in a large reclined chair in front of a TV. The process that followed included this: I got a needle placed into both of my arms, blood is taken out of one arm, circulated through a machine that separates the platelets and plasma, and then the blood is returned to me in my other arm. This process can take anywhere between 70-90 minutes depending on the count of platelets that you donate. I sat in that chair for 90 minutes watching Netflix, and let me tell you – it was a tough process.
I just donated platelets that could go to a cancer patient. The transfusion that they will receive could turn their bad day into a good one. The American Red Cross is in need of donations every day, and I just helped save lives. I realized that even though the process wasn’t too enjoyable, I can’t imagine what life would be like suffering from cancer and having to go through treatments that could drain me of my strength and energy.
Since my first time giving platelets, I have donated two more times and have decided to try and do so every three weeks. This might seem ambitious, but in reality you can donate platelets every 7 days up to 24 times a year (compared to giving blood which you can only donate every 8 weeks). And this brings me back to my position at Colpitts Clinical Trial Travel.
Clinical Trial Patient Logistics
When I started my job, I was not aware of the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of clinical trials taking place on a global scale. But quickly I learned that what we can offer to the patients that participate in these trials is very important. If a patient is enrolled in a trial for a rare disease, they might have to travel constantly over a long period of time, which can be inconvenient and disruptive. One of the aspects of our services that we like to tell our clients is that we can help to make the patients travel experience seamless and worry free. They already have to deal with enough, so we want to help and take care of their logistics and expenses. I find the services we offer extremely significant, and I feel working here has definitely been rewarding.
For this same reason, I donate platelets. I have realized how important it is to take time out of your day to help others who cannot help themselves, rare disease or not. Colpitts wants to accommodate clinical trial patients who are taking time out of their lives in order to potentially find a drug or a cure to their condition. And I want to give back to cancer patients who are always in need. The donation process might not be ideal, but when you put it into perspective, it is definitely worth it.
If you are interested in learning more about the donation process, please visit American Red Cross’s website. And if you are interested in learning more about clinical trials, please visit Clinicaltrials.gov https://clinicaltrials.gov/ If you are interested in learning more about our services visit us at http://www.colpittswt.com/clinical-trial/
By Danielle Bailey