Blood Components: How Donating Platelets Can Help Save Lives

Our bodies can be described as a battleground, day in and day out. New assaults, outside sicknesses, viruses, and infections are constantly trying to work their way inside of us through our skin, mouth, nose, ears, or wounds such as scrapes and cuts.

Let’s say that you are taking a bike ride and fall down. Your leg gets a pretty nasty bunch of cuts and scratches from sliding across some gravel. Immediately you are already thinking of heading home to wash your wounds and put bandages on them, but your body has already sent a signal to all of its platelets that there is an open wound that needs immediately sealed off. Faster than a sailor on a sinking submarine, the platelets in your body’s blood stream will converge on the wound and cause your blood to clot. In doing so, the platelets create a scab that will protect you from any more invaders.

Why Platelet Donors Are Crucial To Blood Supplies

While most people’s bodies are able to produce a sufficient number of platelets, many people battling cancer of the blood, like leukemia, lymphoma, or Hodgkin’s Disease, do not have the ability to produce a healthy platelet count to repair any sort of damage to vessels within their bloodstreams. This can be due to natural physical reasons such as the disease itself, or even by the treatment of the disease itself (e.g., chemotherapy).

Another large reason platelets are needed is due to the ability to perform more and more organ transplants. During an organ transplant, platelets are administered to the patient to help the patient’s body accept the new organ as its original. Additionally, platelet donations are critically necessary as it can take anywhere from four to six whole blood donations to be able to gather enough platelets for one single platelet transfusion. So when you donate a platelet donation the blood center is actually able to get one whole unit that it would’ve taken multiple donors to give.

You can donate platelets once every seven days, but be sure to check with your local blood center as requirements can change between different organizations. You also should not be taking anything such as an anticoagulant, aspirin, or any other medications that directly affect the blood when donating platelets.

Have you donated platelets before? What was the experience like?