Demand for Platelets, Whole Blood Donates Rise During Summer Months

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- Summer is here and that means most folks will spend more time outside, on vacation and cruising around on their motorcycles.  The warm weather generally means fewer donors are rolling up their sleeves to give blood, and often, the general blood and platelet supply drops.

"I think I heard it on the news that we had some cancer patients that needed some platelets and that's what I am doing today," said Shelby Heeb of Harrisburg.

Heeb started donating blood in 1964 and has been going strong ever since.

"I do the regular donation at the Methodist Church down in Harrisburg, which they are donating June 15th from 1:00 to 5:00 so if anyone is down there and wants to donate, they are welcome to come out," invited Heeb.

But this time, Heeb is donating platelets...the clotting agent in blood needed to treat patients with cancer, major heart surgeries and traumatic injuries.

Donors can provide about three platelets and can donate every two weeks and they'll need to in order keep up with the demand. In Arkansas, patients need between 75 and 100 platelets every day.

"When they donate platelets, they are donating for cancer patients, the babies at Arkansas hospital and this year 14,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer in Arkansas," said American Red Cross Apheresis recruiter Kathy Gibson.

Unlike red blood cells, which can be transfused up to 42 days after donation, platelets only last five days.  Testing platelets usually takes at least 24 hours.

Platelets and whole blood donations can be made at the Blood Services Donor Center.  They are open Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  The center is open Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  The center is located at 1904 Grant Street in Jonesboro.