A platelet donation, using an automated apheresis (AY-fur-EE-sis) process, collects the equivalent of six times the amount of platelets that typically would be collected from a whole blood donation and benefits patients by exposing them to blood from fewer donors.
- Donors are in constant demand as platelets have a shelf-life of only five days
- Types most needed: A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-
- Donate every two weeks, (24 times/year); two days later, you can donate whole blood. You must wait 56 days to donate again after giving whole blood.
- Approximate donation time: 2 hours
- Platelet donations can be made at our Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Plymouth, and St. Paul donor center locations
Platelet Apheresis FAQ
- How is a platelet donation different from a whole blood donation?
During a whole blood donation, blood is collected as one unit. Only later is it separated into its three components: 55% plasma, 45% red blood cells, and <1% platelets. With so few platelets collected from this process, six (6) whole blood donations would be required to meet demand for the quantity used in a single transfusion. For example, a typical bone marrow transplant recipient would require platelets from about 120 whole blood donations. When making a platelet-only donation, a special automated process is used. Known as platelet apheresis, blood flows directly into a sterile, single-use kit where platelets are collected while the other blood components—red blood cells and plasma—are returned to you. Donors experience no fluid loss during this donation process.
- Why donate platelets?
Every year, platelets save and sustain the lives of cancer, transplant, and trauma patients—and people undergoing open-heart surgery. 20 units of platelets can be life-saving for a patient with severe burns, while a single accident victim can require up to 40 units to survive. The need is constant. Platelets remain viable for only five days, and volunteer donors are in continuous demand—especially on weekends and over the winter and summer holidays.
- Why is platelet apheresis so important?
Apheresis (AY-fur-EE-sis)—meaning to separate—allows you to give just one part of your blood and in greater quantities than through traditional whole blood donations. Specifically, the platelet apheresis process collects enough platelets—in just one visit—required for two-to-three transfusions for those in need.
- How long does the process take?
A platelet apheresis donation typically takes 2 hours, during which time you can access the internet, watch a movie, or simply relax.
- How often can I donate?
Donated platelets are normally replaced in the body within 24 hours, making it possible to donate frequently—up to 24 times per year. Two days after each platelet donation, you also can return to donate whole blood. You must wait 56 days to donate again after giving whole blood.
- Are there special eligibility requirements?
In addition to general donor eligibility requirements (e.g., age, weight, health status), platelet apheresis donors must be free of any aspirin product or aspirin-containing medicine or Feldene for at least 48 hours prior to donating. At your donation appointment, your hemoglobin will be tested to ensure that an acceptable measure of iron is present. And results from the standard mini physical and confidential interview also will be used to determine eligibility.
Donors interested in becoming platelet donors should ask to have their platelet count tested at their next donation appointment. Platelet donors must meet a minimum qualifying platelet count. Effective October 1, 2016, females with a history of pregnancy will now be screened for HLA antibodies. HLA antibodies aren’t normally harmful to the person who made them, but they can be harmful for a patient who receives a platelet or plasma transfusion. Female donors found to be negative for HLA will be eligible to donate platelets.
Tests for platelet counts can be requested at any of Memorial Blood Centers' Metro donor centers or blood drives.
- Making an HLA-Match
Cancer patients, many undergoing multiple treatments for years, may develop antibodies to foreign antigens and require platelets specifically matched to their unique set of Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA)—critical components in the immune system’s defense against bacteria, viruses and parasites. When your HLA-type proves to be the best match for a patient with a similar HLA profile, you may be called upon to make a special donation to meet a specific patient’s time-sensitive need for platelets.
Apheresis Angels are generous donors whose platelets undergo a more extensive antigen typing procedure and, when called upon, make a special donation to meet a specific patient’s time-sensitive need for HLA-matched platelets.
Find out how you can become an Apheresis Angel
Call us at 1-888-GIVE-BLD.
- Contact us at 1-888-GIVE-BLD for additional information.
- Platelet Apheresis Donations Brochure