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Blood Bank at University Health System
Blood Bank at University Health System

What is Plateletpheresis?

Plateletpheresis is the process of removing whole blood from a donor, separating the blood into its components, keeping the platelets, and then returning the remaining blood components to the donor. The major components of whole blood are red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma. Platelets are the tiny cells that help form clots and control bleeding.

Who benefits?

Patients with leukemia, cancer or aplastic anemia need platelet transfusions because their disease and therapy decrease their body's ability to make these important cells. Platelets are also vital for premature infants, and trauma victims.

Patients undergoing extensive surgery, especially open heart surgery, will often need platelets to help control bleeding.

Organ transplant recipients can use up to 30 units of platelets. Because donated platelets can only be stored for five days, the need for them is continuous.

How long does it take to donate?

Plateletpheresis takes 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours from start to finish. This is longer than a regular donation because of the extra time it takes to separate the platelets and return the remaining components to the donor.

How does it work?

During plateletpheresis, blood drawn from your arm goes into a sterile container within a machine called a blood separator. Here, the platelets are separated and the remaining blood components are returned to you. An anticoagulant is added to keep the blood from clotting.

How does the procedure affect the donor?

Apart from the slight discomfort of having a needle inserted into your arm and sitting in the same position during the procedure, plateletpheresis is neither painful nor harmful. The small amount of anticoagulant added to the blood may cause some facial tingling but this will subside immediately after the procedure.

All needles, bags and tubing used in each procedure have never been used and are completely sterile. The supplies used by a donor are discarded after they are used. You cannot get AIDS from donating platelets.

How often can platelets be donated?

Because the body replenishes platelets immediately, you can donate every four weeks. However, donors may not give platelets more than 12 times a year.

Who is eligible to donate?

Generally, the same requirements necessary for whole blood donation apply to the selection of plateletpheresis donors.

How should the donor prepare for plateletpheresis?

The donor should:

  • Eat a hearty meal before the donation and check with the blood bank regarding any medications are being taken.
  • Not take aspirin or products containing aspirin within the 36 hour period immediately preceding each plateletpheresis.
  • Not donate if under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Avoid any strenuous activities immediately after donation.

Why should I be a plateletpheresis donor?

Each time you donate platelets you are helping patients with very specific health problems. In a unique way you are helping save a life.

For more information or to make an appointment,
call (210) 358-2812



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