Blood cannot be manufactured and has a short shelf-life (as little as 5 days for platelets), so when the needed blood component is not available, patients must wait for a donor to be recruited and the product tested, or for the blood to be imported from another state. This can mean a life-threatening delay in receiving the treatment patients so desperately need to live. Atlanta Blood Services’ (ABS) goal is to make sure that the needed blood components are available when patients needs arise.
Platelets are very small cells that are created by stem cells in the bone marrow and are circulated throughout the body by your blood. Platelets are essential to clotting blood when cuts or other open wounds occur and are often used for cancer and transplant patients. Platelets only have a shelf life of five days, requiring the supply to be constantly replenished. Platelet donors can donate every seven days or up to 24 times a year.
Red Blood Cells (RBC’s) make up 45% of the blood and carry oxygen to all parts of the body. RBC’s can be extracted for use in trauma or surgical patients. They can be donated by whole blood donations or on an Apheresis machine.
Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood containing many critical clotting factors. Plasma has many uses for treating patients with chronic illnesses and trauma victims and is donated on a Apheresis machine.
Apheresis (a-pher-e-sis) is a safe and easy way to donate. This process separates the various blood components, platelets/red blood cells/plasma, from the rest of your blood. Through this type of donation, blood is drawn from your arm using a single needle; it then takes a spin in a centrifuge to separate a portion of your blood, such as platelets. The remaining blood is then returned to you. Our clinical staff is specially trained, and the Apheresis computer carefully monitors each donation. Each Apheresis kit is new, sterile and discarded after each donation. Each time a donor comes in they receive a health screening to ensure that it is safe for them to donate.
We need platelet donors because Atlanta simply does not have enough donors to meet the growing need. On average a bone or blood marrow transplant patient will use over 30 units of platelets during their treatment and recovery. The various hospital patients we help use on average over 600 platelets a month. This number continues to grow, there are always patients waiting on a hero, like you, to donate.