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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 stop and prevent bleeding; they are often essential for patients with cancer, patients with traumatic injuries or those undergoing surgery.

Your donation provides critically needed platelets for cancer patients and patients undergoing major surgeries. They also benefit patients with blood disorders and those receiving bone marrow transplants. Platelets must be transfused within 5 to 7 days from collection, thus requiring a continuous supply of donations.

Platelets collected at Trusting Heart Blood Center are intended to be transfused into critically ill patients at local hospitals. Typical patients who might receive your donated platelets include cancer patients, trauma patients and patients undergoing surgery. At Trusting Heart Blood Center, platelets are collected for human use in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations.

To be eligible to donate platelets, a donor must be at least 17 years old*, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in good health. Donors must meet the requirements set forth by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). Each donor must complete a donor history questionnaire and undergo a brief physical examination prior to every donation. At Trusting Heart Blood Center the requirements to become a platelet donor exceed the minimum eligibility criteria for platelet donation.

*In some states the minimum age may be less than 17 years old with parental/guardian consent.

The FDA allows platelet donations once per week with a maximum of 24 times per year. However, Trusting Heart Blood Center is currently schedules return donations every 14 days and monitors donation intervals on your behalf. Platelet levels usually return to baseline levels within 3-5 days of donating and should at no point (even immediately after collection) leave the donor with a critically low platelet count.

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.

Yes, once you are a donor with Trusting Heart Blood Center, you are able to make a donation at other locations.

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 venipuncture site and raise your arm for three to five minutes.
  • Bruising or bleeding may appear under the skin. If this occurs, apply a cold pack periodically to the bruised area during the first 24 hours. You can also apply 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 a well-balanced meal no more than 4 hours before your donation. Avoid fatty foods such as hamburgers, fries, pizza, and ice cream. Drink plenty of fluids before and after donation. We recommend that in addition to your usual fluid intake, you drink 16 fluid ounces of water (or non-alcoholic drink) before your donation. Additionally, donors must avoid aspirin or aspirin-containing medications for at least 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 collection 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 and distribution; a process you can view via the window to our manufacturing area. Processing platelets in the lab takes approximately 36 hours. While the platelets are processing in the lab, blood samples collected during your donation are sent to a laboratory for infectious disease testing. After the processing and testing are completed, the platelets are then distributed to a local hospital for patient use.

Yes, donating platelets is relatively safe. Numerous measures are in place to ensure the process is safe for donors. There are risks associated with donating platelet such as bruising, arm pain, and fainting. Studies indicate that these “adverse events” occur in about 2% of donations. 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 tolerate the platelet donation very well. However, some donors may experience fatigue. You should discuss any concerns with a staff member at Trusting Heart Blood Center and they will offer post-donation recommendations.

  • We are limiting the amount of people that are allowed in the THBC donor center at one time
  • We are screening all donors upon entry by taking their temperature and asking questions about any symptoms
  • We have masks available for all donors if they do not bring their own
  • We have hand sanitizer available throughout the donor center

We require all of our donors to provide us with a blood sample before they are able to give a full platelet donation. There are multiple reasons for this.

  • We test your blood to make sure your platelet count is high enough for it to be safe for you to donate
  • We test to make sure your blood is free of bloodborne pathogens. This ensures the patients receiving your platelets stay safe.
      • There are many pathogens we test for but some of the more well-known bloodborne pathogens we test for are:
        • Hepatitis B
        • Hepatitis C
        • HIV
        • Syphilis
        • West Nile Virus
  • We want to be respectful of your time. A full donation can take up to 3 hours, if we cannot accept your platelets due to any reason, we want you to know before you make a commitment to become a platelet donor with us.
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