How to Donate Platelets

Three Methods:PreparationDonation ProcessAfter the Donation

Platelets are components of your blood that assist in the clotting process. Patients who need platelet transfusions include cancer patients, burn and traumatic injury victims, and those receiving organ/bone marrow transplants and open-heart surgery, among others.

Method 1

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    Determine if you are eligible. You may donate platelets if you:
    • Are at least 17 years old (16 is allowed in some states) and weigh no less than 110 lbs
    • Have not gotten a tattoo/touch-up or piercing within the last 12 months (unless performed in a sterile environment)
    • Are not pregnant or trying to become pregnant
    • Have not traveled to a country with a malarial risk
    • Are in good health. This means that you are feeling well and are able to do normal daily activities. Those with chronic medical conditions may still be eligible, as long as they are receiving treatment for their condition.
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    Eat a healthy meal. Having food in your system will help alleviate the feeling of lightheadedness after you donate. It is recommended to increase your consumption of calcium-rich foods the night and morning before your donation. You should also make sure to drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids, such as water and fruit juice. It is recommended that you drink 6-8 good-sized glasses in the three hours before you donate.
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    Refrain from taking any of the following products for at least 48 hours prior to donating:
    • Aspirin/products containing aspirin (ibuprofen, Advil®, naproxen, Motrin®, Aleve®)
    • Feldene (piroxicam)
    • Plavix (clopidogrel bisulfate)
    • Antibiotics
    • Dental cleaning
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    Make an appointment. Because platelet donation takes between 1.5 and 2.5 hours, it is helpful to make appointments to avoid long wait times.

Method 2
Donation Process

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    Bring at least two types of photo identification.
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    Allow yourself a three-hour time window. The physical donation process generally takes between 1.5 and 2.5 hours, and you will need to allow time before and after donating for paperwork, refreshments, and rest.
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    Be ready for pre-screening. You will fill out a health history form and have a confidential interview with a staff member. If everything is OK, you will be given a brief physical in which your pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and iron level are checked. These tests will see if it is safe for you to donate.
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    Prepare yourself for a brief pinch as the needle is inserted into your arm. For most donors, platelet donation is a painless process after this point. You may watch a movie, listen to music, or simply sit back and relax while you donate.
    • During this time, your blood will undergo a process called apheresis (also known as platelet pheresis). This means that whole blood will be drawn from your arm and passed through a machine called a plasmapheris device. The machine separates the platelets from other components of your blood. The non-platelet components are then returned to your body, usually accompanied by a saline solution.

Method 3
After the Donation

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    Expect to be asked to sit down for 10-20 minutes after donating. This is to ensure that you’re in okay shape before you leave. During this time you can take advantage of refreshments, if provided, to help get your blood sugar up.
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    Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for the rest of the day. Low fluids/blood sugar increases your risk of passing out if you exercise, and the donation site in your arm risks being reopened if you lift heavy objects, giving you a painful bruise.
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    Sign up to do it again! As platelets do not keep for long outside of a body, a constant supply of them is needed. A person can donate up to 24 times per year.


  • You do not need to worry about whether or not the procedure is safe. New sterile needles, collection kits, and tubing are used for each donor. Your body will replace the donated platelets within 72 hours.
  • Avoid fatty foods in the days leading up to your donation. Foods high in fat can cause your blood to fail the screening that takes place after donation, rendering all of your time useless!

Article Info

Categories: Blood and Organ Donation