Platelets help protect our bodies from many external threats by providing the clotting factor in our blood that helps make scabs for open wounds. They are mainly used for folks with weakened immune systems.
When someone commits to donating blood in the form of being a platelet-only donor, that is a huge help to a blood center. Platelets only have a shelf life of roughly five days, and, on top of that, up to 8 units of whole blood need to be sorted into centrifuges in order to extract one unit of platelets. Cancer patients are a large reason why platelets are constantly needed, along with organ transplant recipients.
At Incept, we are blood donor recruitment professionals, and right now on the phones I am currently recruiting many platelet donors throughout the southern half of the United States. Here are a few helpful tips to remember when making an attempt to schedule a blood donor to donate platelets.
Recruiting a Platelet Donor
- Donors who donate blood more frequently are easiest to convert. This makes sense simply because it is already hard enough to get blood donors to donate. They understand the importance of saving lives through donating blood and are often willing to listen to you. Make an effort to see (if you have access) how many times these donors have donated blood. Acknowledge that you understand they are a long-time donor, but their help is needed more so with a platelet donation that will help local hospitals’ needs on a more specific level. You will pleasantly find out how many of them really do want to have a conversation with you when you ask them in such a way.
- Be upfront about donation process, time, and requirements. For someone to be willing to donate platelets is awesome considering how many people don’t exactly get excited to donate a regular whole blood donation. When recruiting a new platelet donor or converting a current whole blood donor to donate platelets, keep in mind they might not be familiar with the process, the length of the time spent donating, or even the basic requirements. Always let the blood donor know that a platelet donation can take up to two hours at their blood center. Always ask them if they are taking any types of medication, especially since even over-the-counter medication, such as aspirin, needs to be avoided by donors at least 72 hours prior to donating. Asking these questions and informing donors of this information can save hassle, avoid confusion, and educate.
- Be knowledgeable about the donation process. Donating platelets is the same style donation as when someone donates red cells or plasma. This is known as an apheretic style donation. People will feel most comfortable when someone has verbally walked them through the process. This type of donation uses a smaller needle, so it might actually be a little more comfortable for the donor. Also they are only donating one of their blood components, so their body doesn’t have to work as hard to regenerate components back. Lastly, they are helping fulfill the specific need for platelets. I like to tell donors it is such a safe procedure that you are even able to donate platelets once every seven days. Once again, it is all about politely educating donors about the options they have when it comes to saving lives by donating.
Stay tuned for more tips on how to recruit platelet and red cell blood donors