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Medical Edge: Platelet donors needed

CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- An urgent plea from Hoxworth Blood Centers Tuesday, not just for those who can donate blood but also for those who are willing to donate a life-saving blood product, platelets.

There is a need for anyone who can donate whole blood.  You just need to be in good health, be at least 17-years-old and weigh at least 110 pounds.  But in addition to that, this time of year there's also a greater need for platelets.  Those are used for cancer patients and also for transplants in our community.

Donor Cara Nicolas said, "I donate because donating blood is a community act.  It's really important and it's a really easy way to save a life."

So easy in fact that donating blood, or even blood products such as platelets, often gets overlooked in the warmer months.  This could be one of the reasons why the platelet shortage is happening now.

Greg Boothe, chief operating officer for Hoxworth, said, "Summer vacations are at the forefront of everybody's mind, not necessarily blood donation."

Boothe said usage was up for platelets significantly.  Routinely 40 units is used most days, now they are seeing the need for at least 60 a day.  The supply of platelets is so low they have to import them from other blood centers.  As few as 15 more people each day who could donate blood or blood products could help fill in the gap.

"We have a real need for platelet donations, specifically aphoresis platelet donors, to come in and donate.  Our usage is up, we have new transplant programs here in the city and with that comes increased usage," said Boothe.

The number to call if you can make an appointment is 513-451-0910.  That blood is promised to area hospitals based on appointments made so even if you can't get in right away  future appointments make a difference as well.

Most whole blood donors can also be platelet donors.  A machine separates the blood products during donation so it does take a little extra time compared to traditional donation.

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