Local UBS Banks Low on Platelet Donations
MCALLEN - A decrease in platelet donations has Rio Grande Valley blood banks on high alert.
According to United Blood Services, Winter Texans make up a good portion of platelet donors. Platelets form clots, which help to stop bleeding. They are used in medical procedures such as surgeries and chemotherapy.
Resident Jim Fredrick said donating platelets is a weekly tradition. He said his reason is an emotional one.
“My wife just started chemotherapy,” he said. “Every week I come. It’s just become part of my life doing it.”
United Blood Services regional director Frank Esparza said there’s a high demand for donations. However, they’ve noticed less Winter Texans stopping by.
“We need anywhere from 25 to 30 units of platelets every day, and it’s hard to get them when you don’t have these people behind us,” he said. “Our donor population is about at the point where they’re going to be retiring from donating.”
According to Esparza, this is due to Winter Texans either passing or deciding to not return to the Valley.
“A lot of these Winter Texans they go back to their states or up north, and we don’t get those donations down here. So we need more local platelet donations here,” he said.
Esparza said the time it costs to donate is a reason why Winter Texans donate more. On average, it takes about an hour and a half to two hours to donate platelets.
The UBS regional director emphasized platelet donations are as important as blood donations.
“Platelets are one of those products we cannot do without. They are the ones that actually start in clotting process when there’s a trauma,” Esparza said.
He said they are doing what they can to get the word out. In the meantime, UBS will continue to rely on people like Frederick.
Esparza urged anyone who is able to spare time to give platelets. People 18 and over can donate every seven days.
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