Welsh Government
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New guidelines announced in appeal for more platelet donors

Platelets are the part of blood that are essential to stop bruising and bleeding.

Volunteers can now become platelet donors without having to give their whole-blood, even if they haven’t given blood before.

The guidelines also allow more young people to donate, with the minimum age for platelet donors dropped from 18 to 17 years old.

The Health Minister today joined former Wales international football player and cancer survivor, John Hartson, to call for more people to volunteer as donors.

Speaking at the launch of the Welsh Blood Service Platelet Awareness Campaign in Talbot Green she said:

“I am pleased to attend this event to increase public awareness about platelet donation.

“Today’s changes are crucial if we are to enable the blood service to meet the increasing need for donor platelets.

“It is important that anyone who can donate platelets under the new guidelines comes forward to support the Welsh Blood Service. It could help to save someone’s life.”

Platelets are life-saving for many critically ill patients, including cancer and leukaemia sufferers undergoing chemotherapy, as well as premature babies in need of transfusions.

Platelets can still be taken by giving blood the normal way, but apheresis can collect the same amount of platelets as those drawn from 8-12 whole-blood donations.

John Hartson said:

“I am delighted to give my support to this campaign. Eight months ago my life turned upside down when I was diagnosed with Cancer. I started radiotherapy and underwent emergency surgery at Morriston Hospital.

“Like other cancer patients, I needed blood and platelet transfusions. The Welsh Blood Service needs more donors to keep up with the demand. Thanks to donors there are many lives saved in Wales everyday.”

Dr Geoff Poole, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said:

“The Welsh Blood Service (WBS) relies on the generosity of volunteers to meet the demand for over 10,000 platelet donations needed by hospitals in Wales each year.  

“Platelets have the shortest shelf life of all blood components, lasting only five days, so donors are in great demand. Our challenge for the future is to be able to increase the supply of platelets donated through apheresis and the only way we can continue to support our hospitals is by more people enrolling as platelet donors.”

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