The American Red Cross has an emergency need for eligible donors to make an appointment now to give platelets to ensure critical patient needs are met. Platelets, the clotting portion of blood primarily given to cancer patients during treatment, must be transfused within five days of donation and, therefore, are always in great demand.
“Cancer patients rely on platelet donations. Chemotherapy drugs and radiation used to treat cancer can affect the bone marrow where platelets are produced, and platelet transfusions help to prevent life-threatening bleeding,” said Kristen Stancil, external communications manager of the Southern Blood Services Region. “We refer to our generous platelet donors as ‘Cancer Kickers’ because they help patients kick cancer. Trauma patients, those undergoing organ transplants and premature babies also regularly need platelets.”
Seasonal colds and flu are currently preventing many regular donors from giving, and the devastating impact of Hurricane Matthew has disrupted donations in many locations in the Southeast. Approximately 100 blood drives have been forced to cancel resulting in more than 3,100 uncollected blood and platelet donations. Healthy donors are needed now to meet the needs of patients at local hospitals as well as in areas affected by the hurricane. While there is an emergency need for platelets, donors can also help by giving blood as there is an urgent need for all blood types.
The need for blood and platelets hit close to home for Mark Reed of Roswell, Georgia and his family in 2014. His son McClain, who was 12 at the time, was diagnosed with leukemia after suffering an injury while playing lacrosse. During the course of treatment, McClain received 14 pints of blood and eight units of platelets. “I remember the times he would be so weak that the color of his skin would turn pale,” said Reed. “When he would receive blood I could see the difference. He would begin to look and feel better. It was amazing.” Today, McClain is cancer free, back in school and playing lacrosse again.
How to donate platelets or blood
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) for more information and to make an appointment.
During a platelet donation, blood is collected by a device that separates platelets from whole blood and returns the remaining blood components back to the donor along with a saline solution. 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 in some locations. Platelets may be donated every seven days, up to 24 times a year. Learn more about platelet donations.
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.
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.