Platelet donation

Up to three adults or 12 children can be helped by one person donating their platelets.

Unlike whole blood which is red, donated platelets appear yellow in colour. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

However only around half of whole blood donors are eligible for the process as you must have a high enough platelet count.

You don’t have to have given blood before to give platelets. To find out if you’re eligible you give a sample of blood to determine your blood group and platelet count, which takes about eight weeks. Your blood volume is then assessed through calculations

based on your height, weight and gender.

Donations take around 90 minutes and as with whole blood donation donors must complete a Donor Health Check to make sure they are safe to give blood.

Donors are hooked up to a specialised machine which separates the blood

components – platelets, red cells, plasma and white cells – by spinning the blood and only takes out what is needed, giving the rest back to the donor. As most of the components are returned, donations can given up to every two weeks and donors may even be called in if there is a sudden demand for platelets.

Platelet donations are usually given to patients who can’t produce their own – such as those with leukemia and certain cancers.

To find out more about platelet donation on NHS Blood and Transplant’s website, click here.

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