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The Lifesaving Value of Blood and Blood Platelet Donations

The Lifesaving Value of Blood and Blood Platelet Donations

When was the last time you saved a life? Most of us can’t don a cape and transform into a superhero, but it’s easier than you might think to save a life! All it takes is a little time and a willingness to be a blood or platelet donor.

Blood donors save lives every day…and this Sunday, September 30, you can too by participating in the Virginia Blood Services drive at the Winchester Medical Center Conference Center between 12 noon and 4 p.m. There is always a need for blood, but an even more critical need for blood platelets - and the equipment for automated platelet donation will be there Sunday!

Why donate platelets instead of whole blood?

There is a critical and constant need for blood platelets because platelets only have a shelf life of 5 days.

Platelets are tiny specialized blood cells that are essential to clot formation in order to stop bleeding. For most of us, platelets jump into action when we skin a knee or nick ourselves shaving. But for millions of Americans who are fighting cancer or another chronic disease, having an organ transplant or other major surgery, or experiencing a traumatic injury, a transfusion of platelets will replenish their depleted supply and prevent life-threatening hemorrhages. And every 30 seconds a patient somewhere is in need of a platelet transfusion!

How does donating platelets differ from making a “standard” blood donation? While it may take up to an hour to donate blood, a platelet donation takes one and a half to two hours. An automated process draws blood from the arm, extracts platelets using an apheresis machine, and then returns the plasma and red blood cells to your body. All while you rest comfortably, socialize, watch a movie or read. Best of all, this extended donation time can save up to three lives!

Not everyone is a good candidate for platelet donation. You may be ineligible if you use certain medications or have certain medical conditions. And if you are a regular aspirin user, you should stop taking it three days in advance of donating. More information and frequently asked questions can be read on the Virginia Blood Services website.

Human blood cannot be manufactured; its only source is other people. That is why your neighbors-in-need are counting on you to come to Winchester Medical Center on September 30 to donate blood or platelets. Add “Be a Superhero” to your Sunday to-do list…and you won’t need to leap tall buildings to save a life!

*Virginia Blood Services will hold regular blood and platelet drives at Winchester Medical Center Conference Center. Visit vablood.org for a full list of upcoming dates, to schedule an appointment, and prepare for your donation.