Giving Platelets – and Hope – to Cancer Patients

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Ninety minutes. That’s all it takes to save a life when you donate platelets at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. For Baila Janock, these 90 minutes are practically a weekly occurrence since her late husband Irving Janock was treated for pancreatic cancer at Dana-Farber in the mid-1980s.

Last summer, after more than 30 years of volunteering at Dana-Farber and making more than 200 platelet donations, Janock joined “Team 20” yet again – an honor bestowed upon donors who give platelets more than 20 times in a year.

A former medical technician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, she knows how important platelets are in the clotting of blood, a process compromised by cancer and its treatments. Platelets have a shelf life of only five days, and many patients with cancer and other serious illnesses depend upon these life-saving blood products.

Baila Janock has donated platelets to benefit cancer patients more than 200 times.

Baila Janock has donated platelets to benefit cancer patients more than 200 times.

“I call giving platelets a positive addiction,” says Janock, a grandmother of six. “Dana-Farber has been my home away from home, and the people there have helped me through difficult times – both when Irving died and when my granddaughter, Carrie, was sick with Fanconi Anemia. Family members often feel helpless, but they should know that donating platelets is something that does help.”

Interested in following Baila’s lead, but not sure what to expect when you donate platelets at the Kraft Center? Here are some tips on platelet donation.

  • Don’t forget to bring your ID. You will need it when you check in and to complete a confidential questionnaire about your medical and travel history.
  • Bring a book, magazine, or iPad to entertain yourself during the donation process, or feel free to watch a TV show or movie from the Kraft Center’s multimedia library.
  • Eat a nutritious meal with plenty of calcium on the day of your appointment, and make sure you are well-hydrated by drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water the day before and day of your donation.
  • Remember what your donation will do! It may be a bit uncomfortable at first, but the expert staff will put you at ease and explain every step – and donors report feeling less tired after giving platelets than after a blood donation. Knowing you are helping to save a life makes the process much more rewarding.

The Kraft Center is currently experiencing an extreme shortage of platelets, as well as types O negative and A negative blood. If you are interested in joining Baila Janock and making a life-saving difference for cancer patients and others in serious need, please email the center with your preferred donation day(s) and time(s) or call 617-632-3206. 

4 comments

  1. Cheryl says:

    Can I donate at the Dana Farber Center in Milford?

    • Dana-Farber says:

      Dear Cheryl –

      Thank you so much for considering a donation to Dana-Farber. More information on how to make a gift is available on this website. If you have any additional questions about donations, please email AskCS@dfci.harvard.edu.

      Thank you again for your generosity. We wish you all the best.

      • Andrew says:

        Cheryl, I think you are asking if you can donate platelets at the Milford facility. I too would like to know the answer to that question. I live 6 miles from that facility.

        I would guess that any blood donation services at that hospital would not be directly supporting Dana-Farber.

        • Dana-Farber says:

          Dear Cheryl & Andrew —

          My sincerest apologies for misinterpreting the question. I’ve looked into it and at this time, blood/platelets benefitting Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s patients are only collected in Boston at our Kraft Family Blood Donor Center (whole blood is collected both at the Kraft Center and onboard the DFCI/BWH Blood Mobile, which travels to locations throughout greater Boston).

          You can also search for blood product collection centers in your area on this website, and then contact the closest centers to ask if they collect platelets as well as blood.

          Thanks again for your interest in donating and for wanting to help out patients in need!

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