You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

The Power of Platelets

Leroy Straight averages 20-24 visits per year to the Donor Center to give platelets.
Platelets have a short shelf life from donation to transfusion – only five days.

When an American Red Cross platelet donor rolls up a sleeve, a special gift is given to a patient in need. In some cases, platelet donors can give recipients a chance to build a future they never expected or thought possible.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS “Wow, how quickly things can change. I went from a healthy 63-year-old to a man fighting for his life in February of this year. I was diagnosed with ITP, a blood clotting disorder… I am forever grateful that platelets and whole blood were available to me,” wrote Ernest, a blood product recipient who shared his story on

Stories from recipients like Ernest are uncommonly common. While each platelet or blood recipient story is unique, they share a common thread of gratitude for the donors who helped save their lives.

“After a wonderful pregnancy and relatively seamless delivery, I was rushed to emergency surgery because of a hemorrhage,” wrote new mom Traci. “During nearly six hours of surgery, three surgeons worked diligently to stop the bleeding... During the course of my operation, I received 15 units of blood, 12 units of frozen plasma and a three-pack of platelets… My family and I are forever grateful. If my daughter could talk, she’d say ‘Thank you!’”

PLATELET DONORS NEEDED Platelets are the clotting factor in blood; they help prevent excess bleeding. Cancer patients undergoing surgeries and premature infants often need this specific blood product. Platelets have a short shelf life from donation to transfusion – only five days. As summer gets underway, it’s important that eligible platelet donors give frequently to help ensure this potentially lifesaving blood product is available for patients whenever and wherever needed.

HOW TO GIVE For more information about donating blood, or to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, please visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.