Why are platelets important?
Platelets, which make up less than 1% of our blood, help our body repair damaged blood vessels. The delicate blood component is crucial for healing in many patients, especially those battling cancer.
For this reason, we encourage many of our donors to give platelets through an automated system. The equipment draws blood, separates the platelets, and returns the other components to the donor, along with a saline solution. As a result, you can donate platelets as frequently as every two weeks!
How often can I donate platelets?
You’re able to donate platelets every seven days, up to 24 times a year. While donating that frequently is not required, we encourage our donors to donate as often as they can!
Platelets in action: Owen’s story
Sarah was celebrating her son’s fourth birthday in 2018 when she had to excuse herself. While she had the video camera pointed at her young son’s face, Sarah couldn’t help thinking this birthday might be his last.
Owen was battling brain cancer for the second time.
Two years later, birthdays have become extra special at the Langston household.
“Seeing your young child going through something so hard but always seeming to have a smile on his face,” said Owen’s dad, Brandon, “I think of the things that he’s had to go through, and I couldn’t have handled it nearly as well.”
The family has nothing but gratitude for the blood donors who made Owen’s recovery possible. They said the journey has been rough, but they’ve been blessed along the way with people who want to help.
“If there’s anything I could say to the people who have donated blood to our son and helped save his life, it’s ‘thank you,’” Brandon said. “You go to Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center and you spend your hour and you donate, maybe not even giving a second thought to what you’re doing.
“But what you’re doing is saving my son’s life.”
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s Approach to the FDA Platelet Guidance Talking Points
Platelets play a significant role in hemostasis and sustaining life during an emergency where bleeding is present. To ensure better quality and safety of platelet transfusion, the FDA issued a new recommended BACTERIAL SAFETY guidance that must be implemented by Oct. 1, 2021. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is in the final planning stages of compliance with the guidance.
The Blood Center will implement both Large Volume Delayed Sampling (LVDS), using storage bags approved for seven-day storage, and Pathogen Reduced (PR) technology to enhance the safety, purity, and potency of apheresis platelets stored at room temperature. This decision comes after a careful review of our supply chain in conjunction with customer survey feedback provided since 2019.
Effective Oct. 1, 2021, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center will provide a mix of LVDS platelets and PR platelets to maximize the safety and availability of our regional platelet supply. However, as our regional demands change based on technology strategy, we will adjust PR production as needed.
One of the challenges you might face is that if you donate platelets regularly, you might not be able to give the donation type that you used to. This is due to the larger volume being required for platelet testing. If this happens, you are no longer large enough based on Total Blood Volume (TBV) to donate the types you may have donated in the past.
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is sampling a larger volume of the platelets to test for bacterial contamination and are taking these samples from the platelet bags later than in the past. This will give a better chance to detect bacterial growth, which then gives patients in local hospitals a safer product.
Pathogen Reduced (PR) platelets involve treating the units with a special UV light that kills bacteria, viruses, and any other potential pathogen while at the same time, not harming platelets and their ability to help you maintain hemostasis. To make PR platelets, specific platelet collection targets are needed.