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Common questions about Trusting Heart Blood Center and donating

There is probably a lot you want to know about, from what a platelet is to how the whole donation process goes. We’re here to provide answers to these and other common questions.

Blood is composed of four components: red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Platelets are small cells that help to stop bleeding by forming clots; they are essential for those fighting cancer, disease and traumatic injuries.

Your donation provides critically needed platelets for transfusion which aid in the process of blood clotting for cancer patients and patients undergoing major surgeries, as well as giving strength to patients with blood disorders and those with transplants. Platelets are transfused within 5 to 7 days from collection requiring a continuous supply need.

In order to donate platelets a donor must be at least 18 years of age, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and in basic good health. Donors must also meet the requirements set forth by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). This is determined by completing the donor health history questionnaire and physical examination prior to each and every donation.

The FDA allows platelet donations once per week with a maximum of 24 times per year. Trusting Heart Blood Center monitors donation intervals on your behalf. Platelets will return to normal levels within 72 hours of donating.

Trusting Heart Blood Center will inform you if you are permanently or temporarily deferred. The deferral period depends upon the reason for deferral which you will be informed.

Most donors do not experience any adverse effects during or after platelet donation. You may feel faint or fatigued, if this is the case, alert a staff member or lie down until you feel better. After donating, it is recommended that you:

  • Increase your fluid intake for the next 24 to 48 hours; avoid strenuous physical exertion, heavy lifting or pulling with the donation arm for about five hours; and eat well balanced meals for the next 24 hours. Smoking and alcohol consumption is not recommended
  • If bleeding occurs after removal of the bandage, apply pressure to the site and raise your arm for three to five minutes.
  • Bruising or bleeding may appear under the skin. If this is the case, apply a cold pack periodically to the bruised area during the first 24 hours, then warm, moist heat intermittently.

If you have any questions concerning your donation or experience any unexpected problems, please call the center staff to discuss.

It’s simple. We’ll guide you through the process which involves answering a few questions about your medical history, various lifestyle factors, and disease risk factors. Next, we’ll do a quick check of your vitals and guide you onto the donation process.

Be sure to eat well at your regular mealtimes and drink plenty of fluids before and after donation. Additionally, platelet donors should avoid aspirin and/or aspirin-containing products 48 hours prior to donation.

Once the pre-donation screening is complete, you will proceed to a donor lounge where your phlebotomist will use a platelet donation kit to connect you to an apheresis platelet collection machine via a vein in one or both arms. The process takes up to two (2) hours during which time you can catch up on your favorite tv shows or watch the latest blockbuster hits via one of our integrated entertainment systems. You can also listen to music, read a book, or simply just relax and do nothing.

Once collected, the platelets are immediately taken to our lab for processing; a process which you will have full visibility to via our manufacturing viewing area. Samples are then drawn and shipped to an FDA approved laboratory for infectious disease screening. As test results are received, typically within 24-hours, the platelets are then distributed to hospitals for use in patient treatments.

Yes, donating platelets is safe. Numerous measures are in place to ensure the process is safe for both donors and patients. Based on AABB standards and FDA regulations, all needles, tubing sets, collection bags and other supplies used in the donation process are sterile, used one time, then discarded to protect the donor, the patient, and the staff.

You will feel a slight prick during the needle insertion, no different than a regular blood test or blood donation.

The entire donation process, from registration to post-donation refreshments, can take up to three hours. The actual donation process itself ranges from one-and-a-half to two hours.

Most donors accept the platelet donation very well as saline is transfused through the needle-site and snacks and refreshments are provided after donation. However, some people experience fatigue. You should discuss your concerns before and after donation with a staff member at the blood donor center. They will offer post-donation recommendations.

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