Platelet Donation

When you give platelets you give a child with leukaemia:

  •     another birthday
  •     another school day
  •     another summer day
  •     another laugh
  •     another chance


Be a Platelet Donor

If you are already a blood donor, you’ll know how good it feels to help save lives. Perhaps you have heard about platelet donation from a friend or family member. The South African National Blood Service would like to offer you the chance to do something extra special.

We are asking you to consider becoming a platelet donor.


What are platelets?

Blood is made up of several components, each of which has a specialised function.

This is the watery fluid in which blood components are suspended. It also contains proteins that help control bleeding and promote normal blood clotting.

Red Blood Cells
These transport oxygen to the body tissues and remove carbon dioxide.

White Blood Cells
The main function of these cells is to fight infection.

Platelets are sticky cells which control bleeding and enable blood clotting. Some patients do not make enough platelets. Others lose  latelets during surgery, or they do not have platelets that function properly.


Who requires platelet transfusions?

Platelet transfusion may be used for a variety of conditions. Children and adults with cancer or leukaemia need platelets after having chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Bone Marrow and organ transplant patients, as well as those suffering from aplastic anaemia, also rely on platelet transfusions.


How are platelets collected?

The donation process is quite simple and takes about one and a half to two hours depending on the procedure. As with blood donation, all needles and tubing used are brand new, sterile and disposed of after use.

Your blood is processed through a cell separator where it is separated into the different components. The platelets are removed and collected in a bag, while the remaining components are returned to your body. This is known as platelet apheresis, from the Greek word meaning “to take away”.

How can I become a platelet donor?

Platelet donations can be made at our Special Donor Services Centres. Potential donors are screened to assess whetherit is suitable for them to donate platelets. A blood sample will be taken to check the full blood count and total protein levels. It will be tested for markers
of transmissible diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis. The blood group will also be determined.

If your platelet count is high enough you will be required to complete a donor registration form, which includes your personal details as well as information regarding past and present health.


To be a platelet donor, you must:
  •     be between 16 and 60 years of age
  •     weigh 55 kg or more
  •     have a platelet count above 200 000 per microlitre
  •     consider your blood and blood platelets safe to give to a patient
  •     have no medical history of hepatitis
  •     not have taken medication containing aspirin in the past seven days prior to donating platelets
  •     not be taking anti-inflammatory medication on a regular basis
  •     not be a frequent visitor to malaria areas


Please discuss any queries you may have regarding past or present medical conditions or medication with one of the nursing sisters.

Please make an appointment
Due to the nature and duration of the procedure, and for your convenience, platelet donations are made by appointment only. Safe parking is available.


Do’s and Don’ts for platelet donors
Prior to donating:
  •     Do eat prior to your donation, within 4 hours but avoid fatty foods such as eggs, bacon,boerewors, etc. These cause the plasma to become “cloudy” or “milky”.
  •     Do drink plenty of fluids prior to donating. Fluids are important because approximately 200 - 500 ml of fluid will be removed from your body, and this volume must be replaced.
  •     Don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol the day before or after your donation.
While donating:
  •     Do eat and drink while you are donating platelets.
  •     Do inform the nursing staff if you feel any adverse reaction during the procedure.
After donating:
  •     Do keep the dressing on your arm for two to four hours. If the needle site starts bleeding, apply firm pressure for about five minutes, and then apply a clean dressing.
  •     Don’t do strenuous exercise after you have donated. It may make you feel light-headed or dizzy, and you may faint.
  •     Where can you donate platelets?
  •     Platelet donations can be made at our Special Donor Services Centres.

This is a place where we mention the children you have recently earned there wings



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