Platelets are critical to helping patients kick cancer
NEWARK, Calif. — For the first time, people wanting to make a lifesaving difference in Newark can now donate platelets at the American Red Cross Newark Blood Donation Center.
Last week, the donation center began collecting platelet donations for patients battling cancer and others with life-threatening illnesses or injuries. Platelets are the clotting portion of blood and are needed for many reasons, but they are primarily given to cancer patients. These tiny cells have a very short shelf life – just five days from the time they are donated – so there is a constant, often critical, need for new and current donors to give to keep up with hospital demand for platelets. Every 30 seconds, someone in the U.S. needs platelets, and over 1 million platelet transfusions are given to patients each year.
“Platelet donors can make a profound difference in the lives of seriously ill patients, particularly those battling cancer,” said Virginia Angerer, Apheresis manager of the Northern California Blood Services Region. “Most of us will be touched by cancer in some way in our lives. By making a platelet donation, donors can help someone kick cancer, giving them hope and potentially a lifetime of memories.”
More than 1.6 million new cancer cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Some chemotherapy drugs and radiation used to treat cancer can affect the bone marrow where platelets are produced, and platelet transfusions are often needed to prevent life-threatening bleeding.
About platelet donation
During a platelet donation, blood is collected by a device that separates platelets, along with some plasma, from whole blood, and the remaining blood components are returned to the donor. The entire process takes about two to three hours, and donors are encouraged to relax during the donation – videos, television and wireless Internet are available.
Donors with types A positive and AB blood are especially encouraged to give platelets. Type AB platelets and plasma can be given to nearly all patients, regardless blood type. Platelets may be donated every seven days, up to 24 times a year.
How to donate platelets
Use the Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org/giveplatelets or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving for their donation. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.
Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood or platelets. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.