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Patient Resources

Apheresis Donor Program (Platelet Donation)

Why Donate Platelets

During treatment for their illness, cancer patients, babies in intensive care, and surgery patients may become susceptible to life-threatening bleeding. Transfusion of platelets is needed to help prevent these complications. You may give these patients a second chance at life by becoming an apheresis platelet donor. Most people have more platelets than they need, and can safely give some away.

What happens during an apheresis platelet donation procedure?

During an apheresis procedure, blood will be removed from your arm, as in a regular blood donation. It will pass through sterile tubing in a special machine called a cell separator where a safe number of desired platelets will be removed. The rest of the blood will be returned to you. The apheresis donation lasts about two hours. New sterile tubing is used for each donor and is never reused.

Can I be an apheresis blood donor?

If you are suitable to give a pint of whole blood, you are usually fit to be an apheresis donor. Additionally:

  1. You should not take aspirin or an aspirin-containing drug within the 72 hours preceding a platelet donation.
  2. Your blood cell count must be high enough so we may collect the best possible product for the patient and your own cell count will not drop too low after the procedure. (We will do a test to count your cells).
  3. If you have given whole blood, you must wait 57 days after that donation before you may undergo an apheresis procedure. However, you may make an appointment in advance with the NMCP Blood Bank.
  4. Because of strict regulatory requirements, persons may not be able to donate due to prior travel, medications, medical conditions, certain risk factors or other situations. If requested, The Apheresis section may provide general deferral information.
  5. Contact the Apheresis Center at 757- 953-1717 or 757-953-1730.

How many times may I donate my platelets cells by apheresis?

Each of us has a supply of platelets in the blood, and as many as half can be lost without ill effects. These are replaced by the body within forty-eight hours. You may have up to two apheresis procedures within a seven day period, with an interval of at least forty-eight hours between procedures. However, we prefer you give less frequently to allow your body to recuperate completely and keep a high blood cell count.

Where can I get more information on the apheresis program?

If you have questions regarding the apheresis program or would like to make an appointment to donate, call the NMCP Blood Bank at (757) 953-1717 or 1730.

Don't forget to keep your family's information up-to-date in DEERS.