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Time: Approximately 2 hours
To donate platelets, you must meet the same physical examination and donor history requirements as for a whole blood donation. In addition, you must refrain from taking aspirin and aspirin-containing products (i.e. Anacin®, Bufferin®, BC Powder®) for 48 hours prior to donating platelets. Aspirin and aspirin-containing products render the platelets ineffective and not useful for the therapy in which they are intended. Call the donor center to determine if your pain reliever contains aspirin.
Time between donations: 7 days
You may donate platelets once every 7 days but no more than 24 times annually.
Platelets are fragments of large cells produced in the bone marrow. When platelets are released in the bloodstream, they help the blood clotting process by adhering to the lining of blood vessels and act as the body’s “internal” band-aid. A normal, healthy individual has a platelet range of 150,000 to 400,000. Platelets survive in the circulatory system for about 9 to 10 days after which they are removed by the spleen. For children receiving chemotherapy, their platelet count may drop below 10,000, which can lead to dangerous blood loss from physical trauma or blood vessel leakage that would otherwise occur in the course of normal, daily activity.
At St. Jude, platelets are collected by a process called apheresis, or platelet pheresis. In this process, blood is drawn from the donor and separated into its components inside of the pheresis instrument. The instrument uses centrifugation to separate the red blood cells, plasma and platelets into different layers. The platelets are then retained while the instrument returns the red blood cells and plasma to the donor. This cycle continues until a unit of platelets has been collected.
The resulting platelet unit is highly concentrated, containing 6 to 10 times as many platelets that can be obtained from a single, whole blood unit. The platelet product has a shelf life of 5 days.