Children’s Hospital is in critical need of red blood cells and platelets.
The Blizzard of 2013 did more than bury the Boston area. As a result of the storm, the Blood Donor Center at Children’s Hospital shut down early on Friday and was closed on Sunday, which is usually their busiest day for donors.
“Platelets have a shelf-life of three days after testing and processing,” Platelet Recruiter Julie Harrington said. “I think there is a nation wide shortage, because we haven’t been able to receive any.”
Platelets are transfused for children getting chemo or transplants. Platelets are the clotting mechanisms, which prevent excessive bleeding. A child getting treatment for bone marrow transplant would receive one bag of platelets a day, according to Harrington.
“Platelets are used almost instantly,” Harrington said. “We need to collect about 20 donors a day to meet the needs of the hospital. It’s a 60 to 90 minute procedure on average, but it can take up to 120 minutes depending on size of donor and platelet count.” The donor’s height, weight and iron level determines how long they are on the machine.
The machine is a single use, single needle kit which draws blood through a centrifuge, separates platelets, then returns the blood to the donor. If the needle is sitting just right, the donor might not even feel anything. Platelets can be collected once every two weeks. Children’s Hospital is asking that people donate once a month.
“We have a lab here for a first time donor,” Harrington said. “The requirements are about the same as blood donation, except the donor cannot have Ibuprofen or Aspirin 72 hours prior to donating. We have five machines, so people can bring friends, watch TV, Wi-Fi, take a nap, hang out.”
“There is no substitute for blood and blood products,” Harrington said. “One bag of blood can help up to four kids. By donating, you are directly impacting the life of a local child.”
To donate, visit www.halfpints.childrenshospital.org or call 617 355 6677.