Medals are great, but they don’t save lives. Platelets, on the other hand, are as good as gold. With the ongoing need for platelet products and the 2018 Winter Games kicking off this February, Virginia Blood Services is encouraging all Virginians to become Olympic Platelet Donors by visiting any of its community donor centers and mobile platelet drives.
In exchange, those who donate during the month of February will receive a limited edition ‘Olympic Platelet Donor’ t-shirt, while supplies last.
Some cancer treatments cause a loss of platelets. These specialized blood cells help control blood clotting. When platelet levels fall too low, patients are given a transfusion of platelets to replenish their supply and prevent life-threatening hemorrhages.
A platelet donation takes just a little longer than a whole blood donation and is done through an automated system that returns other components to your body. Because their shelf life is very short, just five days compared to 42 days for whole blood, platelets are constantly needed.
“A single donation for platelets allows enough for a complete patient dose, meaning the donor supports one patient’s life directly,” explains Michelle Westbay of Virginia Blood Services. “Donors can continue to support patients every seven days through platelet donations and we encourage Virginians to please consider increasing their donation frequency to support life through blood donation.”
Virginia Blood Services urges both existing and first-time donors of all blood types to visit www.vablood.org or call (800) 989-4438 to schedule an appointment at any of its nine donor centers throughout the state including its Roanoke center located at 131 Electric Rd, Salem, VA 24153
The need for blood and platelets is constant, so it is important that donations are given on an ongoing basis. It can take 24 to 48 hours to collect, test, process and distribute blood where it’s needed. Individuals who are as young as 16 years of age (with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in general good health may be eligible to donate blood.
In preparation for their donation, donors are asked to eat well and stay hydrated. The donation appointment takes about an hour (the donation itself takes only around ten minutes) and is both safe and comfortable.
Proper ID is required to donate blood. A Virginia Blood Services or military ID, driver’s license or employee badge with a picture and full name are all approved forms of ID. A birth certificate along with a picture ID that includes the donor’s full name will also be accepted.