Tonawanda News

June 16, 2009

HEALTH: Platelet donation site opens at DeGraff

Staff Reports

Upstate New York Transplant Services expanded Monday its community blood service to include platelet pheresis donation at DeGraff Memorial Hospital.

The new program at 445 Tremont St., North Tonawanda expands on a new blood center there since UNYTS replaced the American Red Cross at the hospital.

“This is definitely a higher level of resources that they can now deliver and it’s definitely needed,” DeGraff’s Director of Marketing Phyllis Gentner said.

She pointed out that with summer comes a rise in demand for blood, and specifically platelets used in surgeries people often elect to have during the warmer months, when recovery is eased by the warm weather.

“A lot of times with chemotherapy patients they’ve depleted their platelets and certain surgeries require (them),” she said as an example also of the specialized process to extract just part of a person’s blood.

Platelet pheresis is a process through which blood is drawn from a donor and separated into its components, some of which are retained, the remainder of which are returned to the donor.

Platelets and plasma are taken out of the whole blood, and red cells and sterile fluid are returned to the donor. Platelet donation takes 30-45 minutes longer than a whole blood donation.

“With platelet donors ... (they’re) able to donate every two weeks as opposed to with whole blood where you can only donate every 56 days,” UNYTS spokesperson Erin Harvey said.

Platelets are essential for normal blood clotting and are used in the treatment of serious illness, including cancer, leukemia and aplastic anemia, as well as heart and transplant surgery patients. Platelets must be transfused within five days and are in high demand by UNYTS’ hospital partners.

The best candidates for platelet pheresis are donors with blood types A+, B+ and AB+ and males with high platelet counts. 

During the summer of 2008, UNYTS opened its whole blood donation center at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in an effort to provide Niagara County residents with a convenient and dependable location to donate.

With the addition of platelet pheresis donation, UNYTS is offering donors the opportunity to maximize their donation, and in turn, directly help those patients battling serious illness or surgery in our local hospitals.

Days and hours of operation for pheresis platelet donors at DeGraff are 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and every third Saturday of the month.

Anyone interested in becoming a platelet donor is asked to call the UNYTS’ special types recruiter at 512-7967 or online at mspoljaric@unyts.org.

Headquartered in Buffalo and established in 1981, UNYTS is among the leading organ procurement organizations in the United States, and is the only organization of its kind nationwide to offer opportunities for organ, eye, tissue and blood donation. UNYTS operates as a not-for-profit serving the eight counties of Western New York and is part of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.