Yeah, it hurts a little, but not much. Actually, the blood pressure cuff around my right arm throughout the procedure bothers me substantially more than the needles do.
Why do I do it?
I'm a firm believer in giving back, but I'm kinda lazy. Apheresis provides vitally needed platelets and plasma and it's something I am well able to do. Plus it makes me feel virtuous.
Not quite two years ago, I went to Mexico with the Engineer for a conference. The week after I got home, I went in for my usual apheresis appointment. There's a question they asked every time, "Have you traveled outside of the United States within the last three years?" My "Yes" answer got me booted for a year. Seems the area I was in was rampant with malaria mosquitos, so I had to take a year off from donating to see if I had picked up any noxious diseases.
Geeze o' pete, that was a long year without any needles in my veins. Sometimes I fantasized that the platelets would build up inside of me until my whole circulatory systems clotted, but I made it through.
I decided that when my banishment was over I was going to try for 24 donations the next year. That's the max platelet donors are allowed. So I girded my loins, took my slow release iron tablets and bared my arms. As of September, I was on track to accomplish my goal.
Then I had a bad stick. Nobody's fault, the vein in my left arm has gotten cranky about being stuck so often. The needle must have nicked the far side of the vein, because when the platelets and saline started flowing back into me, it hurt like the dickens and I got a big knot above the needle where stuff was going into the muscle instead of the vein. They tried reseating the needle, but that didn't work. They tried a different vein and just succeeded in digging a few holes in my arm before giving up.
Went home, gave my arm a week to recover, then went back and had a successful donation.
Yesterday, I got the call.
"Hi Wunx~, I'm trying to find out why the computer canceled your next appointment."
Turned out the Red Cross has a new rule. If they can't return all of your red cells, you have to wait 56 days to donate again - just like a regular blood donor. I won't be eligible to bleed in a bag again until November 26th.
I'm not going to make my goal of 24 donations this year, but... there's always next year.
Of course, gentle reader, if you'd like to head on in to your local Red Cross chapter and help take up my slack, I'm sure that it would be greatly appreciated. They'll even give you juice and cookies afterwards.