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Automated Platelet Donation
Platelets are blood components that allow our bodies to control bleeding. There are a variety of reasons why a patient would need a platelet transfusion. For example, chemotherapy treatments reduce the body's ability to produce platelets naturally, so platelet transfusions are necessary to ensure a person retains the ability to prevent bleeding. Other conditions in which a person may need platelet transfusions are those suffering from accidents where a large volume of blood is lost or recipients of bone marrow transplants.
Unlike red blood cells, which can be stored for six weeks after donation, platelets only have a three day window when they can be transfused. Because of this short shelf-life, the need for platelet donors is continuous.
During a traditional blood donation, a person donates about one pint of blood. Shortly after the donation is completed, our laboratory separates that blood into three components - red cells, platelets and plasma. Because there are only approximately two ounces of platelets in this traditional blood donation, five different donors' platelets must be combined to create one therapeutic dose.
A Platelet Apheresis Donation differs from a whole blood donation in a few basic ways:
- During a Platelet Aphaeresis Donation, the three components of your blood (red cells, platelets and plasma) are separated while you donate instead of after your donation, unlike the traditional blood donation.
- Your blood is separated with a machine that can isolate the platelets and keep them while returning the red cells and plasma back to you.
- Because we only keep your platelets, you can actually donate enough during one donation to help one or two patients.
Is it Safe to Donate Platelets?
Yes, it is safe to donate platelets. Your blood never comes in contact with the machine. The kit used to collect your blood is sterile and used just for you. As a result, you can not contract AIDS or any other transmissible disease from donating platelets.
In addition, healthy people have an ample supply of platelets in their bodies. So you will still have more than enough platelets left after your donation. In fact, your body will replenish the platelets you have donated within 72 hours.
Who Can Donate Platelets?
If you meet the requirements for giving blood, you probably can give platelets. Platelets donors must:
- Be at least 18 years old (17 years old is okay if parent or guardian permits).
- Be in good health.
- Weigh at least 110 pounds.
- Not have taken aspirin or products containing aspirin for 48 hours prior to donation.
While a platelet donation takes approximately 90 minutes, you get a chance to sit in a comfortable chair, watch movies or just relax and enjoy other people who give in this special way. If you are interested in making an appointment to donate at our Providence, Warwick, South County, Woonsocket, Westerly, or Aquidneck Island Donor Centers, please call 800-283-8385 to schedule an appointment.