Platelet Donation

After a long layoff, due to leaving the Andrew and going to exotic countries, just before Christmas I gave blood again. Ive just had an EMail asking me to go to a center upto a couple of times a month to give Platelets.

I have seen the bumph they sent out but was interested to know abit more about it and wondered if anyone else does it or had been asked?


Lantern Swinger
A bit like giving blood but an apheresis machine filters out the platelets, keeps them, then gives the rest back to you. So you only lose platelets. It takes 6 donors to give 1 adult transfusion dose of platelets, so loads of donors are needed. Bear in mind that the UK Blood Service provides products to the Role 3 facility in Camp Bastion as well as MERT.

Posted from the Navy Net mobile app (Android / iOS)
That`ll be why its at a fixed location then, whereas the standard vampires tour many places in a week.
How does it fit in time scale wise with standard donations, instead of/as well as/ in between ?
Can you give blood while at a base/on board?
Yes,if the NBS (National Blood Service) can arrange a donation session on the base. On board,no.

Platelet apheresis is normally done at blood establishments , ie the place where all the blood from donation sessions is processed into packed red cells,FFP (fresh frozen plasma) ,cryoprecipitate and platelets. Platelets can be taken from a normal donation and pooled with other donors into an "adult" dose as AD rightly points out.
Can they not suck out the platelets from the blood they have, or do they need fresh blood to extract them?
Platelets have a limited life once they are donated. They do not do well at 2-6 degrees C which is what red cells are stored at. They are stored essentially at room temperature and even then are only viable for 5 days up to a maximum of 7 days (extended life platelets). When there is a call for donors it is very often the case that there is a platelet shortage. This may be due to trauma/bleeding during surgery or bone marrow transplant patients where at various stages in their treatment platelet demand is very high. For the reasons given I would encourage anyone who has yet to donate blood to do so but If you live close to a centre where they do platelet apheresis then get in touch with the NBS to see if you are eligible. You can sit in a nice comfy chair for an hour or two with a pretty nurse at your beck and call.
Tops ... if you want any more info PM me ... I was the manager at the Southampton Apherisis clinic for 5 years and worked for NHS(Blood & Transplant) for 15 years when I left the mob ... but basically

less than 4% of the population are blood donors and even less are Apheresis donors

Red Cells (normal blood donation) they collect 450mls and then process it nominally into 2 units - Plasma mostly goes in the bin as we've all got Mad Cow Disease - after splitting RBC's are kept at 4C and lasts for 35 days. Donors donate 3 or sometimes 4 times a year as it takes about 12 weeks to replace the red cells.

However Platelets - two ways of gettting them they can take 4 donations (all same group) and take off the buffy coat (bit where the platelets are) - mix 'em together for 1 Adult Therapeutic Dose of Platelets. Problem there is if one of the donors has a "undeclared infection" ... e.g. I've got a cold but it doesn't matter" there is four times the risk to the patient ... and given that most platelets are used in Leukaemia treatment then they are more susceptable to infections so not good odds!

The other way is by Apheresis which is basically a big centrifuge ... suck blood in and spin it down so it splits into Red Cells ... Plasma and the Buffy coat ... if you know the weight and haematocrit of the donor then you know where its going to split in the centrifuge so a carefully lined up tube and the buffy coat can be taken off and the donor gets everything else back. Dependant on the donors platelet count the machines can get 2 or 3 adult thereapeutic doses from one donor so the risk to the patient is a lot lower. - 4 x donors for 1 ATD and 4 times the risk of infection against 1 donor for 2 - 3 ATD's and a quarter of the risk! The longest they can put you on a machine for is 90 minutes but depending on what dose they want (2 or 3) and your platelet count it could be less. The other thing to mention is the Citrate reaction ... they use citrate to stop the blood clotting in the machine and some of it comes back to you so you get a metalic taste in your mouth and it can make your lips tingle.

We can keep platelets for 7 days (they are all extended life these days) and they cant cope with being chilled (they go to sleep and don't wake up) so we have to keep them at 22C and constantly moving ... problem is they are suspended in a small amount of plasma ... and if you want to grown every bug known to man use plasma ... it'll grow anything ... so the risk of infection is high - hence the questionaire you fill out every time you donate! You can give platelets every 2 weeks but normally once a month.

Have a look at Give Blood - Component Donation

As for the pretty nurse at your beck and call ... don't bank on it!

Forgot to add ... you get tissue typed at the same time as occasionally they have to match specific donors to patients.

If you've got the time to spare its a good thing to do!
Last edited:
"As for the pretty nurse at your beck and call....don't bank on it!"


Was just trying to encourage apheresis donations!
Thanks for the info on extended life platelets - have been out of the transfusion loop for a couple of years now. I'm sure from my name you can guess what I'm responsible for now in my lab?

If you're going into So'ton quite possibly ... Think it's all changed since I left ... Staff not the process ... Not sure if any of the old team are still there. There is a small apherisis unit at Poole in Boots as well if it's still going ... I started to set it up then left and my senior sister finished the job off.

Enjoy anyway.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Navy Net - Rum Ration mobile app
Pvivax ... Yeup! .... Not to obvious! I've moved on too ... Transfusion Specialist now for the last 6 years. Or as I like to think "Laboratory / Real world interface"

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Navy Net - Rum Ration mobile app
Went for the tests, they took 4 or 5 vials of blood. Will get the results in a week or two. the nurses are good looking and chatty I could enjoy going there.
Went for the tests, they took 4 or 5 vials of blood. Will get the results in a week or two. the nurses are good looking and chatty I could enjoy going there.

Yeup! Things (or should I say staff) have definitely changed. But good on you for going! So long as your Hb levels and Platelet counts are high enough then you should be OK to donate.

Similar threads

Latest Threads

New Posts