Giving the gift of platelets

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The Olsons donate platelets at Lane Blood Center

April and Todd Olson started donating whole blood 22 years ago, when they first got together.

“I don’t remember how it started, but I would give on his birthday and he would give on my birthday,” April said.

Recently, they started a new tradition: donating platelets via apheresis together.

Todd, who owns a painting company, had donated platelets a few times, but April, a retired dental hygienist, always assumed her platelet count would be too low to join him. But a recent screening revealed she was a great candidate.

She gave for the first time on Dec. 11, 2014.

What is platelet donation?

During a platelet donation, whole blood is drawn from your arm and passes through an apheresis machine, which collects blood platelets and some plasma and returns the red blood cells and most of the plasma back to your body.

How are platelets used?

Platelets play an important role in cancer and organ transplant treatments, and can be used during surgical procedures to help prevent serious blood loss.

While apheresis donation can take an hour or more, a single donation of platelets can constitute one or several transfusable units. By contrast, it takes four to six whole blood donations to constitute a single therapeutic dose.

High need for apheresis donors

Due to increased needs in Oregon, Lane Blood Center is looking for new Type AB and B+ apheresis donors. Type AB blood plasma is universal, meaning it can be given to anyone. But it is rare: Only 4 percent of the U.S. population has this blood type.

Both April and Todd Olson are Type A+, another valuable blood type. So why does the Springfield couple do it?

“We’re blessed with great health, so why not share it?” April said.

Plus, donating platelets is something they can do together to help saves lives, Todd added.

If you are interested in becoming an apheresis donor, call Lane Blood Center at 541-484-9111 and ask for Margie.

Author: Rebecca Taylor

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