1,000 New Platelet Donors Needed

Thu, 01/05/2017 - 12:41

With the Support of Dunkin’ Donuts, The Rhode Island Blood Center celebrates National Volunteer Blood Donor Month and announces new type of blood product RIBC will be among the first to provide.

            The U.S. blood supply is among the safest in the world. But in a world where not every harm can be detected -- harms such as the Zika and Ebola viruses and evolving strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria -- how do we protect patients? Part of the answer lies in pathogen reduction, a viral and bacterial inactivation process, which the Rhode Island Blood Center (RIBC) has begun performing on platelet donations.

            Thanks to advancements in screening and testing over the last several decades, we can greatly reduce HIV and Hepatitis from making it into the blood supply. Pathogen reduction is a more proactive approach and is based on a simple premise: if it doesn't belong there, it's eliminated. Lawrence Smith, President and CEO of RIBC, says, "This is the next generation of blood product safety that donors can provide for patients. The pathogen reduction process will also reduce potential risks not yet identified."

            Pathogen reduction, uses a technology called INTERCEPT Blood System developed by Cerus Corporation. It reduces a broad spectrum of transfusion-transmitted pathogens blocking the replication process of DNA and RNA in living organisms, such as viruses, bacteria and parasites. Without that process, they can no longer multiply and cause disease. Dr. Carolyn Young, MD, PhD, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of RIBC explains, "The technology works by adding a solution to the platelets after your donation and exposing it to UV light. It eliminates the need for bacterial testing and prevents the donor’s white blood cells from making more white cells, which also blocks graft versus host disease (rejection of transfusion.)"

            While technologies that make blood components safer continue to evolve, life-saving blood transfusions are not possible without the most important component of all -- donors. RIBC will need about 1,000 new platelet donors over the next year in order to meet the need for pathogen reduced platelets.

Dr. Edward Snyder, Yale-New Haven Hospital
Dr. Edward Snyder, Professor of Laboratory Medicine at Yale University Medical School and Director of the Blood Bank/Apheresis Service at Yale-New Haven Hospital, spoke about the importance of having pathogen reduced platelets for patients. 

            To help encourage new donors in January, which is National Volunteer Blood Donor month, Dunkin' Donuts will provide all presenting donors in Rhode Island and Bristol County, Massachusetts with $5 DD cards. The $5 DD cards will be presented at the Rhode Island Blood Center and participating blood drives throughout the states, and they can be redeemed at any Dunkin’ Donuts location in the region.

            Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts are amazing advocates of saving lives with a blood donation. "Not only does Dunkin' Donuts provide thank-yous to all donors throughout the month of January, they are a major blood drive sponsor in Rhode Island throughout the year," says Kara LeBlanc, Communications Manager for the Rhode Island Blood Center. In 2016 alone, Dunkin' Donuts sponsored 115 blood drives that resulted in 2,222 blood donations. "Because each donation can potentially save three people, Dunkin' Donuts may have helped save over 6,500 people last year," adds LeBlanc.  

            “We have been a proud partner of the Rhode Island Blood Center for more than 20 years, and we are thrilled to bring our DD Donors initiative back to Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts this month," said Joe Prazeres, Dunkin' Donuts franchisee. “We encourage all Rhode Islanders to do what they can to help this month and throughout the year, and we look forward to giving away a lot of $5 DD cards to show our thanks and gratitude.” All presenting donors who give from January 2 through January 12 will also be entered to win a pair of New England Patriot's Playoff tickets for the January 14th game.

            In Rhode Island, over 370,000 people are eligible to donate blood, but only about 5 percent of the state's population actually gives. Over 200 donations need to be collected each day in Rhode Island to help patients in need. The community is encouraged to come to one of RIBC's six donor centers where they can make all types of blood donations, including a platelet donation that can be pathogen reduced for patients.

More info on giving platelets.