Platelets are cells that help blood clot and support the immune system. During a platelet donation, you give up to six times the amount of platelets contained in a whole blood donation, and your fluids, plasma, and red cells are returned to your body. Not only do platelet donors provide more of the life-saving platelets patients need, they also help limit how many donors a patient is exposed to.
Donated platelets have a shelf-life of 5 days. Platelet donors are constantly needed, especially on weekends and during holidays, to keep the supply stable.
Blood types most needed: A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-
You can donate platelets at our donor centers in Omaha and 84th Street in Lincoln.
Platelet donation FAQ
- How is a platelet donation different from a whole blood donation?
During a whole blood donation, blood is collected as one unit that contains 55% plasma, 45% red blood cells, and <1% platelets. With so few platelets collected from this process, six whole blood donations would be needed to provide enough platelets for a single transfusion. For example, a typical bone marrow transplant recipient would require platelets from about 120 whole blood donations.
When you make a platelet donation, platelets are collected while your fluids and other blood components—red blood cells and plasma—are returned to you. This process is called apheresis platelet donation.
- Why donate platelets?
Donated platelets have a shelf life of only 5 days, and volunteer donors are always needed to help ensure platelets are available in hospitals every day—especially on weekends and over the winter and summer holidays.
Platelets help save and sustain the lives of cancer, transplant, and trauma patients. 20 units of platelets can be life-saving for a patient with severe burns, while a single accident victim can require up to 40 units to survive. In one appointment, you can support 2 or 3 patients in need.
- Am I eligible?
In addition to general donor eligibility requirements (such as age, weight, and health status), platelet donors must:
Be free of any aspirin product, aspirin-containing medicine, or Feldene for at least 48 hours prior to donating.
Have an acceptable amount of iron in the blood; at your donation, your hemoglobin will be tested to check your iron level.
Have a minimum qualifying platelet count.
Ask to have your platelet count tested at your next donation (or stop in to any of our locations and ask to be tested for platelets). If you’re eligible, Nebraska Community Blood Bank will contact you to schedule your first platelet donation! Blood types A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, and AB- are especially needed for platelet donation.
Females interested in donating platelets will be screened for HLA antibodies. HLA antibodies can develop after being pregnant; they aren’t normally harmful to the person who made them, but they can be harmful for a patient who receives a platelet or plasma transfusion. Female donors found to be negative for HLA will be eligible to donate platelets.
- How are single, double, and triple platelet donations different?
Depending on your individual eligibility, you may be able to donate one, two, or three units of platelets during one slightly longer appointment. Double and triple platelet donors provide an entire extra unit of platelets, and help make the transfusion process safer for patients who need multiple units.
To determine the safest type of platelet donation for you, your donor specialist will review your platelet count, overall fluid loss, and other factors. You should not feel any different after giving a double or triple platelet donation compared to a single.
- How long does a platelet donation take?
From check-in to cookies, platelet donation typically takes 1.5–2 hours. Depending on the donor, a triple platelet donation takes about 10–30 minutes longer than a double, and 30–50 minutes longer than a single.
During your donation, you can use the internet, watch TV, or simply relax. Your donor specialist will monitor you throughout your donation.
- How often can I donate platelets?
Platelets can be donated every 7 days, as long as eligibility criteria are met. Your body makes new platelets in 24 hours, making it possible to donate frequently—up to 24 times per year. Three days after each platelet donation, you also can return to donate whole blood or double red cells.