In addition to giving blood, donors can also save lives by giving platelets, the component of blood that causes clotting. Platelets are useful in the treatment of patients with cancer, leukemia, aplastic anemia and other diseases that suppress the body's ability to produce them. Platelets may also be used in trauma situations and during surgeries.
One platelet donation contains eight times as many platelets as a regular blood donation, providing increased benefit to patients. Once donated, platelets are only good to be transfused for five days, so there is a continuous need for donors. Since a donor's body replaces platelets within 24 hours, platelet donors may give as often as once every 72 hours, up to 24 times per year.
Platelet Donation Process
Prior to giving platelets, donors are required to complete a simple questionnaire to help ensure the donation will be safe for themselves and the potential recipients of their platelets. A Marsh Regional Blood Center staff member then tests each platelet donor's blood pressure, pulse, temperature and red cell level (hematocrit) before donation begins. During platelet donation, a special machine is used to draw whole blood from the donor’s arm, separate the platelets and return the other components to the donor. Donors may watch television or a movie, read a magazine or book or simply relax as they are carefully monitored by a specially-trained technician during the process.
Although not as quick as giving blood, the entire process typically takes only two hours from start to finish, with the actual donation lasting approximately 90 minutes. Since platelet donations require more time than giving blood, donations are pre-scheduled.
Platelet Donation Requirements
To protect the safety of platelet donors and potential recipients, individuals SHOULD NOT donate platelets:
- If they weigh less than 120 pounds
- If they are younger than 18 years of age
- If they have had a cold, sore throat, fever, flu or fever blisters within three days
- If they have taken aspirin or any product containing aspirin within 72 hours of their donation time
- If they have taken a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) within 24 hours of their donation time
- If they are currently taking an antibiotic for an infection or have taken an antibiotic within the past seven days
- If they have not eaten a well-balanced and substantial meal within four to six hours of their donation
- If they are lactating (the anticoagulant used during the procedure can cross over into a mother's breast milk)
- If they have a history of hepatitis, heart disease or most cancers within the last five years
- If they have had a tattoo, blood transfusion or accidental needlestick within the past 12 months
- If they have had a major surgery in the past six months or pregnancy within the past six weeks
- If they have ever had a positive HIV test or had sex in the past 12 months with anyone who has had one
- If they have ever used illegal IV drugs or had sex in the past 12 months with anyone who has done so
- If they have received or given money or drugs for sex since 1977
- If they are MALE and have had sex with another male since 1977
- If they are FEMALE and have had sex in the past 12 months with a male who has had sex with another male since 1977
If you are interested in becoming a platelet donor at Marsh Regional or have questions about these requirements or any aspect of platelet donation, please contact (423) 224-5888.