Blood platelet donors needed for cancer patients - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Blood platelet donors needed for cancer patients

Platelet donors are needed to help cancer patients dealing with side effects of treatments. (Source: KPLC) Platelet donors are needed to help cancer patients dealing with side effects of treatments. (Source: KPLC)
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

There is always a need for blood donors and those with the greatest need of donated blood components in our community are those in their cancer fights.  The need has grown so much that LifeShare Blood Centers in Lake Charles is taking some dramatic steps to recruit more donors.

There are some misconceptions about those who make up the biggest group of blood component recipients, according to center director, Kristi Morris.

"We think, you have an accident, you need it, but right now, cancer patients are our number one patients that we care for," she said.

Morris says it is not the red blood cells that these patients depend on the most, it is the platelets, directly impacted by cancer treatments.

"Platelets are the part of your blood that make your blood clot.  We understand that when we give all of these treatments that our cancer patients are getting, that it does a lot to your own immune system, it does a lot to your blood.  They need platelets," said Morris.

CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital Regional Cancer Center radiation oncologist, Dr. David Chang, says chemo and radiation destroys cancerous cells in the body, but can also interfere with the body's production of blood cells.

"When you get intense cancer treatments, then it's very common for there to be drops in the blood counts: red cells, white cells and platelets," said Dr. Chang.

The implications of a platelet shortage can be serious for those with cancer.

"If there was a big shortage of something like platelets and patients' treatment had to be delayed, that could potentially affect their chances of being cured from cancer," said Dr. Chang.

One step LifeShare is taking to make it more convenient for donors is to expand their hours.  They are now open every weekday, half days on Saturdays, and by appointment on the third Sunday each month.

Those extended hours will also allow donors more time to commit to the platelet donation process that takes about an hour and a half.  But that time commitment can help our most vulnerable neighbors, on the receiving end of a life-sustaining gift. 

Platelet donors can donate every two weeks, compared to every eight weeks for red blood cell donors.

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