Platelets’ removal is a process that also allows the blood donor to provide a particular blood component. Platelets can save lives, but can be kept only for five days. The platelet removal process is identical to that of plasma removal, only it takes even more time. One unit of platelets is collected from 6-8 doses of blood. It is safer for the patient, because it reduces its exposure to multiple donors, just as with plasmapheresis. Patients who benefit most from receiving platelets are the ones suffering from leukemia. Chemotherapy destroys the platelets, therefore, in order to prevent internal bleeding, platelets are been transfused to the patients.

What is the meaning of platelet removal?

Blood is a mixture of red and white blood cells, platelets, plasma and other elements. The platelet removal process is a special blood donation process that allows the volunteer to offer only one item, the platelets – i.e. the blood cells that help stop bleeding. Our blood contains excess platelets and many of them can be removed without any side effect to the donor. The ones that are been removed, are restored within a few days.

How are they removed?

The donor lies beside a machine, a small needle is inserted to its vein and a small amount of blood is passing through a machine that automatically separates the platelets. The remaining blood is returned by the same hand back to the donor. The overall process  lasts 1-2 hours. The whole process is longer than the usual blood donation, because it takes longer to separate and collect the platelets from other blood components.

The procedure is almost always performed at the Hospital where the patient is hospitalized and if possible, a few hours before they are administered to the patient. Platelets are not maintained for several days, or easily transported from one hospital to another.

What is the importance of offering platelets?

The offer of platelets helps children who have thrombocytopenia, due to serious health problems such as leukemia, cancer or aplastic anemia. Often, the survival of these patients is dependent on the platelet transfusion.

Who can donate?

The conditions to be met by platelets’ donors are almost identical to those of donors of whole blood. You must be absolutely well in your health, weigh more than 50 kg, do not get chronically medication, and not to have taken aspirin in the last 5-6 days. Also, before someone gives platelets, he/she must come to the blood donation and give a blood sample for laboratory examination, 4-5 days prior to their removal, so that they can be administered as soon as they are received.

Can a non-donor, become a platelet donor?

People with mild anemia who are excluded from donors can be platelets’ donors, given the fact that they meet the other criteria of history and laboratory tests.

Does the removal of platelet hurt?

The removal of platelets is as painful as the usual blood donation. You will feel only a slight prick when the needle enters the vein of your hand.

Is the removal of platelet safe?

The removal of platelets is very safe. There is no risk of infection, because the whole process is done in a closed sterile circuit. The hematocrit remains at the same level, since the red blood cells are returned to the donor, so there is no risk of dizzy or faint or no risk of iron deficiency.

How often can I donate?

Every 15 days.

If I am a platelet donor, can I also donate blood?

Yes, provided that at least 48 hours have passed from the last time you donate. If you recently gave blood and you were asked to donate platelets, you can donate if it has been at least one month since the last time you offered blood.

What should the donor do the day of the platelets’ donation?

Be relaxed and have a good sleep the day before.
Have received regular breakfast the day of donation of platelets.
Preferably, eat dairy products (milk / cheese / yogurt – rich in calcium) the same or the previous days.

What should the donor do after the platelet donation?

Do not smoke for 1 hour.
Do not consume alcohol for 6 hours.
Do not bear a weight or to exert greater pressure on the hand that the needle was inserted for 12 hours.
Do not be subjected to heavy physical exercise for 12 hours.