During a platelet donation, you give up to six times the amount of platelets contained in a whole blood donation, and your fluids and red cells are returned to your body. Not only do platelet donors provide more of the life-saving platelets patients need, they also help limit how many donors a patient is exposed to.
- Platelets have a shelf-life of only 5 days, and platelet donors are in constant demand
- Types most needed: A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-
- Donate every 7 days, (up to 24 times/year); seven days later, you can donate whole blood or double red cells
- Approximate donation time: 2 hours
- Platelet donations can be made at our Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Plymouth, and St. Paul donor center locations
Platelet donation FAQ
- How is a platelet donation different from a whole blood donation?
During a whole blood donation, blood is collected as one unit that contains 55% plasma, 45% red blood cells, and <1% platelets. With so few platelets collected from this process, six whole blood donations would be needed to provide enough platelets for a single transfusion. For example, a typical bone marrow transplant recipient would require platelets from about 120 whole blood donations.
When you make a platelet donation, platelets are collected while your fluids and other blood components—red blood cells and plasma—are returned to you. This process is called apheresis platelet donation.
- 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. Donated platelets remain viable for only five days, and volunteer donors are in continuous demand to help ensure platelets are available every day—especially on weekends and over the winter and summer holidays.
- How long does the process take?
A platelet donation typically takes one and a half to two hours, during which time you can use the internet, watch TV, or simply relax.
- How often can I donate?
Platelets can be donated every 7 days, as long as eligibility criteria are met. Your body makes new platelets in 24 hours, making it possible to donate frequently—up to 24 times per year. Seven days after each platelet donation, you also can return to donate whole blood or double red cells.
- Are there additional eligibility requirements?
In addition to general donor eligibility requirements (e.g., age, weight, health status), platelet 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, your hemoglobin will be tested to ensure that there is an acceptable amount of iron in your blood. Results from the standard mini-physical and confidential interview also will be used to determine eligibility.
- How are single, double, and triple platelet donations different?
Depending on your individual eligibility, you may be able to donate one, two, or three units of platelets during one slightly longer appointment. Double and triple platelet donors provide an entire extra unit of platelets for patients, and help make the transfusion process safer for patients who need multiple units. Depending on the donor, a triple platelet donation takes about 10–30 minutes longer than a double, and 30–50 minutes longer than a single.
To determine the safest type of platelet donation for you, your donor specialist will review your platelet count, overall fluid loss, and other factors of your individual eligibility. You should not feel any different after giving a double or triple platelet donation compared to a single.
- How can I become a platelet donor?
Donors interested in becoming platelet donors should ask to have their platelet count tested at their next donation. Platelet donors must meet a minimum qualifying platelet count. If you’re eligible, Memorial Blood Centers will contact you to schedule your first platelet donation!
As of Spring 2019, females interested in donating platelets will 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.