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Durban North South African National Blood Services needs your platelets

The need for platelet donations is on the rise. Platelets are need by patients with cancer, those undergoing surgery where there has been massive blood loss, and patients with various medical problems.

THE South African National Blood Services (SANBS) Durban North branch is looking for new and existing donors to donate platelets as well as other blood products.

“In October last year, the branch introduced platelet donations which haven’t reached the targets the SANBS was hoping to achieve,” says donor relations practitioner Dennis Ngongoma.

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“By donating platelets, you are giving patients a second chance at life. Your blood saves lives,” he said.

“Platelet donations are very important as they play a major role in the clotting factors of the blood. We would really like to grow our platelet donor database and encourage existing and new donors to visit the branch to register or to find out more information,” he said.

He added that patients with cancer, those undergoing surgery where there has been massive blood loss, and patients with various medical problems need platelets.

Due to numerous new oncology units opening up each year, the demand for platelets increases accordingly. “SANBS has seen a year-on-year increase which is why we now offer this service at our Durban North Branch,” he added.

The procedure itself is painless but takes about two hours which is why SANBS Durban North has opened its doors on one Sunday a month to accommodate for those who are time-restricted. Platelets can be donated every six weeks as the donor’s red blood cells are returned to them.

“The cell separator machine is responsible for the procedure, separating the components into red cells, plasma and platelets. The red cells are returned to the donor, and the platelets and plasma are sent to the lab for further processing,” said Ngongoma.

“Try to avoid any fatty meals at least 24 hours before the procedure, and have a meal or snack that contains protein. Also, avoid any medication that contains blood thinners, such as disprin or aspirin, for seven days prior to the donation. No anti-inflammatories can be taken three days prior, as well,” he added.

Donors must not take anti-inflammatories or medication containing disprin/aspirin regularly.

Before the actual process, pre-test samples are taken to check for eligibility for the programme. Once results are released and the donor is eligible, a booking is made for the donor to be bled.

“There are no known long-term effects from donating platelets, and it is not painful apart from the tiny pinch you may feel during needle insertion. The donor will not feel the separation of the products while hooked to the machine nor the red cells being returned,” he added.

The only side effect that the donor may experience is a tingling sensation around their mouth which is rectified by giving the donor some calcium.

Anyone between the ages of 18 and 75 years, who weighs 55kg or more and who belongs to the blood groups A or AB, provided that they meet all the other criteria for donating blood, can donate plasma. If a donor grew up in a malaria area or is a frequent visitor to a malaria area, they will not be eligible for the platelet programme, however, they can donate plasma.

To make an appointment, call 031 719 6719.

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