New Year, New Urgency for Platelet Donors



January ushers in a new year full of fresh goals, possibilities, and resolutions. It’s a time when many of us are looking for ways to make a meaningful contribution beyond the winter holidays.

January is also National Blood Donor Month—an ideal opportunity to address the critical need for donors. Blood supplies in the U.S. are historically low due to the effects of the pandemic, making whole-blood donations exponentially important. But did you know there is also an urgent need for platelets—a vital, life-saving component of our blood?

Platelets, or thrombocytes, are fragments of cells that circulate within our blood to form clots that stop or prevent bleeding. Patients who can’t produce enough of their own platelets must receive them through infusions. Platelets may be small (in size), but they are powerful parts of the cell that hold a unique capacity to save lives!

Why Should I Donate?

Our country is facing a crisis and an immediate need for willing platelet donors. Every 15 seconds, someone needs platelets; that means approximately 5,000 units of platelets are needed daily. It’s important to note that platelets degrade quickly, so patients must receive them within five to seven days of donation.

Platelets are vital for people with traumatic injuries or life-threatening illnesses—including patients with cancer or blood disorders and those undergoing open-heart surgery or organ transplants. Organizations like the American Red Cross are urging healthy people to donate platelets to help address the scarce supply.

When considering donating platelets, keep in mind that the process can take two to three hours to complete. That’s because it takes time to isolate and collect the platelets from other components in your blood. Curious about donating? Learn more about platelet donation here.

Safety Precautions

According to the FDA, blood does not transmit respiratory viruses and there have been no reports of the coronavirus spreading through blood transfusions. The FDA has required that blood centers follow special guidelines to ensure the safety of blood donors and recipients. In addition, CDC guidelines require the sterilization or disposal of all instruments that come in contact with blood.

For donors, the most important rule is that you be in good health and feeling well on the day of your procedure.

Making a Difference this Year

As the World Health Organization (WHO) recently shared, “Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person – the gift of life. A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several.”

So, this year, consider donating platelets to people in need. It is a wonderful way to start the new year and give back after the holidays!

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