American Red Cross Blood Services to hold series of platelet donor center open houses

June 1, 2012

Attendees to learn how they can help save lives while sitting in a chair and watching television

During June and July, Greater Alleghenies Region Blood Services plans to let area residents in on what some of its employees consider the organization’s best-kept secret – that you can sit in a chair, watch television and help save lives.

The Region has scheduled a series of open houses at its platelet donor centers:

Thursday, June 14: State College, Pa., 135 South Pugh Street

Tuesday, June 19: Altoona, Pa, 415 Orchard Avenue

Wednesday, June 27: Beaver, Pa., 133 Friendship Drive

Wednesday, July 11: Johnstown, Pa., 250 Jari Drive

Thursday, July 12: Greensburg, Pa., 351 Harvey Avenue

Open House hours at all sites are 4 to 6:30 pm.

Visitors can enjoy free refreshments and will be entered to win door prizes.  

Apheresis (A-fur-EE-sis) is a special kind of blood donation that enables individuals to give just one part of their blood. Plateletapheresis allows donors to give platelets, the tiny cell fragments that help control bleeding.

According to Lynda Wedge, RN, Apheresis Collections Director, cancer and leukemia patients may need platelets because chemotherapy can prevent a patient’s bone marrow from making enough platelets to enjoy everyday activities.”Bone marrow recipients can use up to 120 doses of platelets waiting for their new bone marrow to engraft.”

She added that platelets may also be transfused during heart by-pass surgery to prevent post-operative bleeding.

“Advances in medical technology and treatments would not be possible without platelets; but there is still no way to manufacture them. They must come from dedicated platelet donors,” Wedge stated.

She explained that at least one of the Greater Alleghenies Region’s platelet donor centers are upon every day of the year except for Christmas Day. “Platelets last only five days and a constant supply is needed. We welcome new donors of all blood types, especially those with A and AB blood types.

“We are currently relying on the generosity of blood donors from other Red Cross blood regions to meet the platelet transfusion needs at the more than 80 hospitals we serve in our 100-county service area.”

Platelet donor eligibility is similar to that for whole blood or double red cell donation:

  • Platelet donors must be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds.(16 year olds may not donate platelets currently);
  • Donors must be in general good health the day of their donation;
  • Two additional criteria:
  • Donors must be free of any medication containing aspirin for 48 hours;
  • People who take anticoagulants (agents used to prevent blood clots) or anti-platelet drugs such as Plavix may not donate platelets while on these medications.

Wedge added that because the body replenishes platelets more quickly than it does red cells, platelet donors may give as often as 24 times a year. She noted that donors with high platelet counts may be able to give up to three patient doses in a single platelet donation. By comparison, it takes the combined platelets from approximately 12-18 traditional whole blood donors to get the same amount.

For additional information, call 1-800-542-5663, ext. 2637.