Rhode Island Blood Center needs platelet donors to replenish low supplies

Cancer patients, trauma patients, and people with other health conditions need platelet infusions as part of their medical treatments.

By: Tim Studebaker

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The Rhode Island Blood Center is asking donors to step up with a very specific request.

Kara LeBlanc is the Marketing and Communications Manager for the Rhode Island Blood Center.  LeBlanc says, “We are suffering from a significant shortage of platelets.”

Platelets help produce blood clots to control bleeding.  They’re most often needed by cancer patients, like a 5 year old from Lincoln named Rae, who receives platelet transfusions donated at RIBC.

Rae 2

(Photo Credit: Rhode Island Blood Center)

Cancer treatments make it difficult for patients to produce their own platelets.

Platelets are also crucial in treating trauma patients, women experiencing complications during child birth, and patients with other health concerns that affect their ability to produce their own platelets.

One of those patients is 17-year-old Joni.  Joni is battling aplastic anemia.  She travels from Cape Cod to Providence every week for transfusions.

Joni 2

(Photo Credit: Rhode Island Blood Center)

LeBlanc says, “Those donations actually allow her to live a perfectly normal life.  She plays three different sports.  She’s getting straight As.  She’s looking at colleges.  And without those, she would not be able to do any of those things.”

The process takes longer than a typical blood donation, about two hours, but those donations are incredibly important because platelets have a very short shelf life of only 5 days.  Platelet donors can give more frequently compared to whole blood or red cell donors, as often as every 2 weeks, up to 24 times a year.

LeBlanc says, “We’re not even asking people to do it that frequently.  If people would give just once a month, or a couple more times than they already do, that would help solve the problem.”

For every blood donation made during the month of April, the Rhode Island Blood Center will contribute one dollar to help Ukrainian refugees.

For more information on platelet donations, visit the RIBC website here: https://www.ribc.org/ways-give/donate-platelets/

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2022

Categories: News, Rhode Island