Platelet donors are true heroes to people like 5-year-old Zoiey. In June 2013, Zoiey was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, the most common form of childhood leukemia. Her blood counts were so low that she received a platelet transfusion while she was being flown from Yuma to Phoenix to begin her treatments at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. So far, she has received 5 platelet and 6 red blood cell transfusions and receives more when her counts are low. Her treatments are expected to continue for another year.
To ensure that patients like Zoiey have the platelet transfusions they need, United Blood Services annually offers a program to encourage people to give platelets during the holidays. Called All-Stars 4 Life, donors who give platelets between October 1 and January 31 are invited to take part. Following each platelet donation, the donor will receive a small “thank you” item to remind them of the people who receive their gift of life. Those who give 4 times during the 4-month program will be entered to win courtside tickets to a Phoenix Suns game, courtesy of the Phoenix Suns
Platelets are the component in whole blood that helps control bleeding. Using a special donation process called apheresis, blood centers can collect enough platelets for one or more transfusions from a single donor. During a platelet donation, whole blood is collected into a machine that separates the platelets then returns the red cells and other components to the donor. Donors can give platelets as often as every three days, up to 24 times a year. Each donation takes about two hours to complete.
The need for platelets is constant. Every day, hundreds of patients across Arizona require platelet transfusions to support them through treatments for cancer, burns, traumatic injuries and other life-threatening conditions. Platelets are also used in large quantities, and over extended periods of time, by leukemia, cancer and bone marrow transplant patients. Platelets also are used following surgery to help stop bleeding. With a shelf life of only 5 days, platelets are a very precious component of blood.
To make an appointment to give platelets, call 1-877-UBS HERO (827-4376).