Platelets are essential not only for trauma victims, but also for those battling cancer or undergoing major surgery. They make up a tiny fraction of your blood and have a shelf life of five days, the shortest time of all the blood components.
There always is a need for platelet donations, and it is vital that we have them on our shelves at all times. For example, in the aftermath of the Santa Fe tragedy, hospitals asked for us to provide platelets. We could not have done so were they not already on our shelves.
Why are platelets important?
Platelets, which make up a tiny fraction of your blood, help control bleeding and help heal wounds by forming clots.
What is a “normal” platelet count?
Normal platelet counts range from 150,000 to 450,000 per microliter of blood. Depending on your count, you could donate enough platelets to help one, two or even three patients in one sitting.
How does donating platelets alone compare with donating whole blood?
An automated platelet donation is equal to the platelets derived from six whole blood donations.
Who is eligible?
- Donors must be 17 years or older to donate platelets.
- Donors 17-18 must weigh at least 122 pounds. Those over the age of 18 must weigh at least 110 pounds.
- Female blood donors must have a minimum hematocrit of 38 percent, and the minimum level for male donors is 39 percent. The maximum hematocrit level is 55 percent.
What is the process like?
Platelets are donated through an automated process. It’s also called apheresis (but we won’t make you pronounce it). This process can take up to two hours, but our phlebotomists make sure you’re nice and comfortable (they have blankets if you get chilly) before you are hooked up to a Trima machine. These machines separate your platelets from the other blood components, returning the plasma and red blood cells, along with fluid to keep you hydrated.
How often can you donate platelets?
You may donate every seven days, up to 24 times per year.
Where can you donate?
You can donate platelets at any of The Blood Center’s Neighborhood Donation Centers.
What can you do during the process?
Load a good book onto your Kindle, enjoy something on the television we’ll provide you, study for class, keep up with social media on your phone or catch up on your favorite show on your iPad.