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New Platelet Center Aims To Recruit More Donors

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RALEIGH, N.C. — WakeMed

recently opened a new platelet donation center and doctors said that in two hours, donors can help save six lives.

Platelets help clot blood and prevent bleeding. Patients with leukemia, cancer, and immune disorders often have low platelet counts.

"They're your body's internal Band-Aid," said Susan Ramsey, a donor recruiter at WakeMed.

Cancer patients, as well as trauma and surgery patients, are the biggest users of platelets.

Ronnie Upchurch started donating after his brother developed cancer.

"He told me he felt a lot better after he had his platelets. It gave him a lot of energy," Upchurch said.

Recruiters said donating platelets is a lot like giving blood. However, platelets are separated out of the blood and then the blood is returned to the body.

WakeMed's new platelet donor program needs at least 15 donors per week to keep up with demand. Platelets only have a shelf life of five days.

"Which is really why our need and the demand is constantly there," Ramsey said.

Upchurch's donation will be used within 48 hours. He is a triple donor, which means in one visit he gave enough platelets to give three donations.

"I was kind of surprised that I'm giving a triple dose today," said Upchurch.

The donation process takes about two hours. Donor Nathan Osburn believes the benefit to others outweighs the time it takes.

"It's miniscule in the grand scheme of things. This is my little portion I can give," Osburn said.

Platelet donors must be between 17 and 76 years old and in general good health. They must weigh at least 110 pounds and must not have had a tattoo in the past year. Blood is also screened for safety.


Ken Bodine, Photographer
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