'I think about him': Frequent platelet donor encourages donations as supply runs low

·2 min read

When Donna Spicer's brother-in-law was diagnosed three years ago with lymphoma, she didn't fully understand the importance of donated blood platelets.

Spicer was already a regular contributor at blood donation centers. But Lee Arnold's cancer diagnosis led her to make a bigger commitment.

"It was the first time I saw anyone directly benefiting from a donation," Spicer said.

Arnold died last year, but Spicer stuck to her commitment. She donates platelets every two weeks at the Blood Assurance center in Franklin.

"It's the least I can do," she said. "It's the least anyone can do, and it makes a huge difference in someone's life."

Blood Assurance, a nonprofit blood center that serves 70 healthcare facilities across five southern states, is in dire need of platelet donors, the organization announced Monday.

Donated platelets rest inside a refrigerator at the Blood Assurance donation center in Columbia, Tenn., on Tuesday,  Aug. 17, 2021.
Donated platelets rest inside a refrigerator at the Blood Assurance donation center in Columbia, Tenn., on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021.

The center needs to keep 75-100 units of platelets on its shelves.

Right now, it has 32.

“Platelets are unique because of their short shelf life,” said Dr. Liz Culler, chief medical officer for Blood Assurance. “We need these collections regularly.”

Platelets, which help with blood clotting, are provided to patients that experience traumatic injuries, bleeding during surgery, transplants and cancer treatments.

“Our family members, friends and neighbors battling cancer and other debilitating illnesses may very well require platelet transfusions as part of their treatment,” Culler said.

“The time to act is now.”

MORE: Clarksville's Ray Swadley on why he's given blood hundreds of times at the American Red Cross

The donation process can take up to two hours, part of which requires a thorough questionnaire and iron test. A donor is then connected to a machine that pulls blood, filtering out platelets, while returning remaining blood cells to the body.

To encourage donations, Blood Assurance is willing to pay donors for their time. Through Friday, anyone who donates will be eligible for a $20 Amazon or Mastercard gift card.

Spicer plans to return to the center Thursday to donate — a week before the one-year anniversary of Arnold's death.

“Every time I go,” she said, “I think about him, and the people like him I'm helping.

"If you're eligible, it's really worth doing.”

Learn more about platelet donation

To learn more about the requirements for donation, visit bloodassurance.org/about-platelets. Donors can schedule an appointment online, call 800-962-0628 or text BAGIVE to 999777. Walk-ins are also accepted.

Contact Tennessean reporter Kirsten Fiscus at 615-259-8229 or KFiscus@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @KDFiscus.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Blood platelet supply critically low, donation center offers incentives