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KINGSPORT — Marsh Regional Blood Center, which supplies platelets to 22 medical facilities in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, is experiencing a critical need for this blood product.
Director Don Campbell said the center has experienced an uptick in recent usage that has significantly decreased the platelets supply. He urged residents of the region to visit one of Marsh Regional’s three donor centers — 102 E. Ravine Road, Kingsport; 1996 W. State St., Bristol; and 1 Professional Park Blvd., Suite 14, Johnson City — to boost the supply.
“We are fortunate to have solid support from residents in our area who have generously supplied platelets to meet the needs of our patients,” Campbell said. “We periodically have a greater need for a variety of medical conditions that can cause our supply to drop. That has happened recently, and we are confident the residents of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia will respond to take care of the needs of their friends and neighbors.”
Campbell said Marsh Regional’s stock of whole blood is in good shape.
Platelets are the part of a person’s blood that causes clotting, and patients with cancer, leukemia, aplastic anemia and other platelet-suppressing diseases frequently need them. The American Cancer Society said patients might need a platelets infusion if their bone marrow is not making enough of them.
In addition to serving the needs of cancer patients, platelets are used to assist with other medical conditions, such as open-heart surgeries and aortic aneurysms.
Because all donations to Marsh Regional stay in this region, all platelets are used for patients in local cancer centers and hospitals.
Platelet donations are especially important during the summer, as many regular donors go on vacation or are caught up in activities. However, the need for platelets does not slow down during this time of year. Also, platelets only have a shelf life of five days, making more donors necessary on a regular basis.
Unlike whole blood donations, which include red blood cells and plasma, platelets are collected through a process called apheresis. This method removes platelets from the body but leaves the other blood components intact. Because platelet donations only remove one component of blood, donors can give more frequently — a maximum of 24 times a year. Whole blood donors, however, can only donate once every two months.
To donate platelets, individuals must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. People with a cold, sore throat, fever, flu or fever blisters or who are taking antibiotics may not donate. Anyone who has taken aspirin in the last 72 hours is also ineligible.
Donors should eat a balanced meal before giving platelets.
Platelets donations occur by appointment. To schedule one, please call 423-224-5888 in Kingsport, 423-652-0014 in Bristol or 423-979-0574 in Johnson City.