What are Platelets?

Platelets are blood cells that help control bleeding. When a blood vessel, or skin, is damaged, platelets collect at the site of the injury and temporarily repair the tear, through a process with active plasma substance to form a clot.

What is Apheresis?

Because not enough platelets can be captured from whole blood donations a special procedure called Apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis) is utilized. An apheresis donation allows a donor to give specific blood components, such as platelets. During the apheresis procedure, all but the needed blood component is returned to the donor.

Why is Blood Separated?

Different patients need different types of blood components, depending on their illness or injury. After you donate whole blood the unit is separated into red cells and plasma in our laboratory. Whole blood can be stored for 42 days. Plasma can be frozen for up to one year. Plasma is used to replace essential proteins for clotting or replace volume in trauma cases.

Who Needs Platelets?

Many lifesaving medical treatments require platelet transfusions. Cancer patients, those receiving organ or bone marrow transplants, victims of traumatic injuries, and patients undergoing open-heart surgery require platelet transfusions in order to survive. Because platelets can be stored for only five days, the need for platelet donations is continuous. Platelet transfusions are needed each year by thousands of patients like these:

  • Heart Surgery Patient, 6 units
  • Burn Patient, 20 units
  • Organ Transplant Patient, 30 units
  • Bone Marrow Transplant Patient, 120 units

Who can be a Plateletpheresis Donor?

If you meet the requirements for donating blood, you probably can give platelets. Plateletpheresis donors must:

  • Be a male, or a woman who has never been pregnant
  • Be at least 18 years old (16 and 17 year olds must have written parental consent)
  • Be in good health
  • Weigh a minimum of 110 pounds
  • Have good quality veins
  • Be free from ingestion of aspirin or products containing aspirin and other NSAID's (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for at least 48 hours before donation

Is the Procedure Safe?

Yes. Each donation is closely supervised throughout the procedure by trained staff. A small portion of your platelets is collected so there is very little risk of bleeding problems as a result of donation. Your body will replace donated platelets within a few hours. The donation equipment (needles, tubing, collection bags) are sterile and used only one time, making it impossible to contract a disease from the process.

How does the Procedure Work?

Blood is drawn from your arm through sterile tubing into a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins the blood to separate the components, which vary in weight and density. A port is opened along the spinning tubing at the level containing platelets. These platelets are drawn into a collection bag, while the remaining blood components (red cells and plasma) are returned to you through your other arm.

How Long does it Take?

Depending on your weight, height and Platelet count, the donation procedure will take approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours. All apheresis donations are collected while you sit in a state-of-the-art "e-chair" where you may watch television, videos, listen to music, surf the internet, or simply sit back and relax while helping save a life.

How Can I Become a Plateletpheresis Donor?

Call the Central California Blood Center at (559) 389-5461 for more information or to make an appointment.