The Benefits of Donating Platelets

One of my best friend’s father just passed. He was an amazing man. His cancer was being controlled by chemotherapy drugs until a heart condition caused him to have to go off the life-sustainingΒ meds. Have I said he was an amazing man? He was so amazing he and his wife raised a daughter who just recently donated bone marrow to her uncle. Yeah, that’s my friend, I pick them well don’t I?!

This donation was at the time in honor of, but now also in memory of, this amazing man.

This is what platelets look like. They can only be stored for 5 days so the need is often and great.

What Are Platelets?

Platelets are cells that assist in normal blood clotting. You need appropriate blood clotting when you cut your self or damage your body, in order to stop bleeding. They are made from cells in the bone marrow. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can inhibit the production of platelets in the bone marrow.

Who Needs Platelets?

Cancer patients who undergo platelet suppressing therapies like chemotherapy and radiation often need donated platelets. People who have received a bone marrow transplant or an organ donation may also need donated platelets. Others who need these life-saving cells are victims of traumatic injury or those who have had open heart surgery.

Why is the Need to Donate Platelets So Great?

What is shocking, is that platelets can be stored for only 5 days. So the need for them is great and continuous. Those who donate may only have time to donate whole blood which only takes about an hour. To donate platelets you need to allow for the procedure to take about 3 hours. I know it seems like a really long time but if you consider how desperately it is needed and who you are helping, 3 hours no longer seems that long does it?

What Do You Need To Know To Donate Platelets?

I already mentioned that it takes about 3 hours to donate platelets. You also need to have an iron level of 12.5 in order to donate. You don’t have to know that ahead of time because they will test you at the donation center. It does help to eat a hamburger or two the day before you donate in order to get your iron levels up. You also want to drink plenty of water the day before your donation so your veins will be easy to find and draw from. My other suggestion is to take a good electrolyte supplement with calcium and magnesium before you donate since these minerals can get depleted in the donation process. I suggest Endura from Metagenics. You can find it at our clinic or on our website.

The good news is that because they are only taking platelets, they can return the rest of your blood to you which means you are less likely to be tired after a donation. You do want to be careful to not do anything crazy that might cause a cut or injury like boxing or skateboarding since your ability to clot will be decreased for a few hours until you replenish your platelets.

Don’t I look like a superhero?! I felt like one:)

All in all, it is a fairly painless and easy procedure that can help save a life.

Rock your karma,

Dr. Stacey

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