Summer brings greater need for blood, platelet donations

One of the easiest and most effective ways to help cancer patients is to give blood. There is a constant need for donations, but especially so in the summer when people are on vacation and unable to donate. One pint of blood can save up to two lives, and one platelet donation can save up to three.Donations of blood and platelets are especially important for cancer patients because chemotherapy may cause low counts of blood cells. Often, patients are unable to regenerate the cells, quickly enough, on their own.

Platelet donor Kevin Blake with Cheryl Riley

Kevin Blake, an electrician at Dana-Farber, first started donating platelets 36 years ago and is coming up on his 300th donation. Blake began giving platelets after seeing the children sick with cancer in Dana-Farber’s pediatric clinic, and now tries to donate at least once a month. He says working at Dana-Farber and seeing patients every day has let him witness the lasting effect of his donation.

You can donate platelets at Dana-Farber’s Kraft Family Blood Donor Center, and blood at the Brigham and Women’s Blood Donor Center. Combined, the two centers are responsible for 60,000 transfusions a year. You might also consider becoming a stem cell donor, in which your stem cells are collected and given to a cancer patient during a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

Platelet donations normally take around 90 minutes, and blood donations take around 15.  You must be more than 17 years old and in good general health to donate. There is no substitute for the benefits of a blood or platelet transfusion, and no other place the blood can come from except willing donors. It just might be the easiest thing you can do to help save someone’s life.