The American Red Cross has an emergency need for eligible donors in the area 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 Robert Roggeman, Chief Collections Executive, Central 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. More than 100 blood drives have been forced to cancel resulting in 3,500 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.
Jeff Hull’s wife, Jennifer, was diagnosed with cancer last December and has received multiple platelet transfusions. Though he was a platelet donor prior to her illness, Hull’s donations now have even more significance.
“Giving platelets may take a few hours from your day, but it can add years to the life of a cancer patient,” said Hull. “It allowed my wife to be there for our daughter’s first day of kindergarten. It’s allowing my kids to help my wife celebrate another birthday. Platelet donation has kept my family whole.”
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.