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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Platelet Donations Provide A Different Way to Save Lives

    Amidst the humanitarian mood surrounding this month’sStony Brook Cares Residential Blood Drive, students often forget that there isa major medical center right next door. Stony Brook University Hospital acceptsdonations year-round, with a blood donor center that is open seven days a week.

    In addition to giving blood, the hospital offers a differentway for donors to help save lives: platelet donation. Unlike those who donateblood, individuals who donate platelets do not experience any considerable lossof their body’s blood volume.

    ‘?We need a continuous inflow of platelets for ourpatients so they don’t die,’ said Dr. Dennis Galanakis, the MedicalDirector of University Hospital’s Blood Donation and Transfusion Unit(Blood Services). Galanakis said that the need for platelets is just asimportant as the need for blood in hospitalized patients.

    Platelets help in blood clotting. For those patients whocannot stop bleeding on their own, like those with leukemia or considerableinjuries resulting in excessive blood loss, a platelet transfusion can belifesaving.

    Those who donate platelets will recover them within a fewhours. Donors are allowed to give platelets twice a week, and up to 24 times ayear. A donor must be in good health and weigh at least 110 pounds. The risksinvolved with platelet donation are identical to those for donating blood,Galanakis said.

    Once a donor sits in the chair, he or she must fill out aconfidential questionnaire, undergo an examination of vital signs and submit toa blood test. These measures are taken to ensure that the donation is safe forthe individual giving, as well as those receiving, the platelets. ‘?Wewill not let you donate unless it’s absolutely safe,’ Galanakissaid.

    Two blood lines are then attached to the donor, one on eacharm. Blood is removed from one arm and sent to a device which separates theplatelets from the blood. This process is accomplished using a device called acentrifuge, which separates the platelets from the other constituents of bloodbased on their relative density. The platelet-free blood is then returned tothe body through the other arm. ‘?Only a cupful of blood is out of yourbody at any given time,’ Galanakis said.

    The entire process takes about two hours, at which time thedonor can sleep, read, study, watch a movie or chat with nurses. Movement islimited, but accommodations can be made so that donors can flip pages ofmagazines or textbooks

    Platelets have a shelf-life of only five days. This is whyBlood Services encourages individuals to donate platelets regularly.

    ‘?The message we want to give is that our population ingeneral is needed to support the health care of our patients,’ Galanakis said.’?We would like to appeal to those goodhearted donors who will donateregularly. But if you would like to donate once, we accept that, too.’

    ‘?I’ve heard too many stories of people withleukemia,’ said Andrew Hirsh, a second-year student at Stony BrookMedical School, of his reason for donating. Hirsh is a regular donor, who firstdecided to donate platelets because doing so also entered him into the nationalbone marrow donation registry.

    Anyone interested in donating platelets or blood can contactUniversity Hospital’s Blood Services, located on the fifth floor of theHospital, at 444-2634. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are alsowelcome.

    ‘?You never know who is going to need blood andwhen,’ Galanakis said.

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