Friday, 18 May 2012

Cambridge MP And Lib Dems Answer Call For Blood Platelet Donors

Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert and Liberal Democrat councillors answered a call for more blood platelet donors on Friday, May 18.

Julian and the five city and county councillors supported a campaign by the NHS Blood and Transplant service to find more platelet donors for the Cambridge Blood Donor Centre.

Cambridge City Councillors, Susannah Kerr, Sarah Brown and Paul Saunders and Cambridgeshire County Councillors, Sarah Whitebread and Ian Manning joined Julian at the mobile blood unit for a one-off testing session at the Star Radio studios in Cambridge’s Mercer’s Row.

They were tested to see if they could donate platelets – tiny cells in the blood which enable clotting and help to step blood loss. These crucial supplies have only a seven day shelf-life and are used to treat patients whose bone marrow isn’t working properly, including cancer and leukaemia patients undergoing chemotherapy.

The Cambridge Blood Donor Centre, on the Addenbrooke’s Hospital site, is one of only two in the East of England to collect platelets and supplies hospitals across East Anglia.

Julian said: “This was such a simple process which took just 15 minutes but if any or all of us are able to donate platelets we will be able to help some very sick people.

“I hope more people will be encouraged to take this test because clearly with such a short shelf-life and the fact that only around one in four people will have a high enough platelet count to make a donation, supplies are needed regularly.

“None of us knows what the future holds but we could find ourselves in the position where we desperately need this service.”  

Platelet donors are encouraged to donate regularly, at least once a month and more if possible.

 Anyone aged between 17 and 65 can be tested to become a donor along with those aged between 66 and 70 who have given blood before. Those over 70 need to have given a full blood donation in the last two years.

Julian is joined by (from left) Sarah Whitebread, Paul Saunders,
Sarah Brown, Ian Manning and Susannah Kerr stand
up to be counted at the mobile blood unit
NOTE: Platelet donation is a specialised process and can only be done at a handful of centres across the country – including a donor suite at Addenbrookes Hospital. Blood group A negative donors are particularly needed, as their platelets can also be given to patients with other blood groups

Chemotherapy or radiotherapy can destroy healthy as well as diseased cells in the blood. A patient with a low platelet count may be at risk of severe bleeding problems, so they can need many transfusions over the course of their recovery period

Platelets are collected in two ways. A donation of platelets given using a machine which separates the platelets and returns the rest of the blood can give enough for three transfusions. Alternatively, the platelets from four donations of whole blood can give enough for one transfusion. It takes around one and a half hours to make a platelet donation.