I made my first platelet donation on May 25, 1991, a little more than twenty-five years ago. Each donation takes about two and a half hours from beginning to end and I've watched a lot of mindless morning television in that time. (I've also eaten an awful lot of Lorna Doones for breakfast!)
From the website of the American Red Cross, some Fun Facts to Know & Tell:
- Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
- Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
- Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.
- Nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
- The number of whole blood and red blood cell units collected in the U.S. in a year: 13.6 million
- The number of blood donors in the U.S. in a year: 6.8 million
- Although an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood at any given time, less than 10% of that eligible population actually do each year.
- Blood cannot be manufactured – it can only come from generous donors.
- There are four types of transfusable products that can be derived from blood: red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. Typically, two or three of these are produced from a pint of donated whole blood.
- A single donation can potentially help more than one patient.
- Donors can give either whole blood or specific blood components only. The process of donating specific blood components – red cells, plasma or platelets – is called apheresis.
- One transfusion dose of platelets can be obtained through one apheresis donation of platelets or by combining the platelets derived from five whole blood donations.
- Most donated red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection.
- Donated platelets must be used within five days of collection – new donations are constantly needed.
In addition to the platelet donations, I've donated 7+ gallons of whole blood since 1982, so there's a little bit of me in an whole lot of people.