Donors can give platelets

Bobbi Sands

 WITH the festive season over, the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is hoping their regular donors are back from their holidays and their blood stocks will reach the goal of a five-day stock.
Head of marketing for the SANBS, Elize van Zyl, said things will hopefully go back to normal with most people starting back at work this week and pupils returning to school yesterday.
“Our blood stocks are not nearly where they should be, so we need to promote blood donation as much as we can.”
She said the current blood stock level in the Eastern Cape was at 2.3 days and is urging people to become donors.
“Our hope is to keep a five-day stock to ensure lives are saved,” said Van Zyl.
Another exciting project at the blood service centre in Buckingham Road, Mount Croix, is the Aphaeresis Platelet Donation Centre.
This is the only centre of its kind in the Eastern Cape.
“There are currently 80 donors who spend an hour- and-half on the cell separator which separates the blood components and allows the harvesting of platelets.
“The procedure is similar to blood donation except for the fact that only platelets are harvested and all other blood components are returned to the donor.
“Usually, a minimum of two paediatric and one adult product of platelets can be made from a single donation which means that up to three patients can receive products from one donation,” said SANBS public relations officer Maryke Harris.
She is a platelet donor herself. She said there was a great need for donors of this highly-specialised product.
“The ideal platelet donor is someone who regularly donates blood, has good veins, weighs more than 55kg and who has two hours to spare for the procedure.
“Platelet donors can donate monthly, whereas normal blood donors can only donate blood every 56 days,” added Harris.
She said the first step to identifying whether a person is a suitable candidate for platelet donation involves a blood specimen taken to determine if a prospective donor has a high enough platelet count.
“Once all the tests have been done and the donor is found to meet the necessary criteria, the first collection is done a few days to a few weeks later.”
Anyone interested in becoming a platelet donor can contact the Special Donor Services Centre on (041)391- 8217.

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