Giving Platelets – and Hope – to Cancer Patients

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.