The American Red Cross recently issued an emergency alert for platelet and blood donors.
“Right now we are at an emergency alert level,” explained Communications Manager for the American Red Cross Sue Thesenga. “During November and December, the Red Cross collected 37,000 units less than we expected, so we’re trying to make up that shortfall.”
Every 30 seconds someone in the United States needs platelets, and because platelets must be used within five days, new donors are needed every day. That is why the American Red Cross began collecting platelets on Jan. 7 at the Chippewa Valley Blood Donation Center, 3485 E. Hamilton Ave.
“Most people don’t realize, but cancer patients or people with life threatening illnesses that have bleeding involved, really need platelets,” Thesenga said. “It’s really important to have a staple supply of platelets available at hospitals because they only have a shelf life of 5 days, so we it’s really important to have so we can meet patient demand.”
During a platelet donation, blood is collected by a device that separates platelets, along with some plasma, from whole blood and returns the remaining blood components back to the donor. The entire process takes about two to three hours to ensure a full donation. Donors are encouraged to relax during the donation, and the Red Cross center has videos, television and wireless internet available.
Donors are able to donate platelets every seven days, up to 24 times a year. In comparison, people donating whole blood are eligible to donate every 56 days, up to six times a year.
To donate or to find out more information about donating platelets in Eau Claire, download the new American Red Cross donor app, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit http://www.redcrossblood.org.