Although Fulton entered nursing school with the idea of working in the labor and delivery department, she found that she was attracted to the emergency department because of its fast pace and the way it would allow her to help the community. Since Fulton has become a nurse, she has also become a steadfast platelet donor. Platelets are a type of blood cell that allow bodies to form clots and are mostly used to help people control their bleeding, according to Central Texas blood bank We Are Blood.
“I decided to [become a regular donor] because I feel like doing community work is really important,” Fulton said. “Working in the emergency department, I actually see the products that are donated being given to patients. I can see the immediate benefits of donating.”
Burn victims, premature babies, organ transplant recipients, trauma victims and cancer patients are the primary demographics in need of platelet transfusions, according to the blood bank. The bank is always in need of a steady supply of these donations because platelets have a shelf life of just five days and cannot be stockpiled the way whole blood donations are.
“And there are greater needs [for platelets] during the holidays ... [as] there are more traumas because there’s a lot more people on the road,” Fulton said. “And also during the holidays people are away, and they’re not doing their usual donations. So it’s a great idea for people to come in ... get screened and see if they’re able to do it.”
Since platelet donations take between 70 minutes and two hours—as opposed to 45-60 minutes for typical whole blood donations—and only 47% of the U.S. population is eligible to become donors based on their blood type, the need for donations is often not fully met. However, Fulton said she views the extra time as a way to give more meaning to her days off.
“For me, I don’t get many opportunities to just sit and read guilt-free when I’m off work,” Fulton said. “I feel all this pressure to catch up and do things around the house and do things for other people. So it’s something that kind of satisfies my desire to be still and relax and do something for myself but also do something for other people in the community. It’s a win-win.”
Where to donate:
We Are Blood
3100 W. Slaughter Lane, Austin
Hours: Wed.-Fri. 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; closed Mon.-Tue., Sat.