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What is platelet transfusion for?

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Blood transfusion is a practice in which blood is given to a person intravenously. It is used when there is a deficiency of any of the components that make up the blood, such as white and red blood cells, plasma, and platelets, whose function cannot be replaced by any treatment or medication, being vital for the health and well-being of the person who will receive the transfusion.

Platelets are an essential blood compound to stop any bleeding; for this reason, when a person has lost a lot of blood, and their platelet concentration is lower than normal levels, a blood transfusion of platelet components is required to prevent the person from bleeding out and completely decompensated. In this FastlyHealarticle, we will explain what platelet transfusion is for.

What are platelets?

Platelets are blood cells that help control excessive bleeding. When a person is injured, platelets build up in damaged blood vessels to stop or repair bleeding to prevent bleeding or blood loss. Platelets are also responsible for sealing wounds, as they have the task of activating substances in the plasma to produce the clot formulation that manages to close a lesion completely.

Any disorder that indicates an abnormal alteration in platelet values ​​is known in medicine as thrombocytopenia, a condition that is associated with the presence of abnormal bleeding. The most common causes of not producing enough platelets in the bone marrow and a deficiency of platelets in the blood are aplastic anemia, leukemia, cirrhosisfolate deficiency , bone marrow infections, and myelodysplastic syndrome, and vitamin B12 deficiency. Thrombocytopenia can be temporary when significant bleeding occurs in the body, either internal or external.

Who needs a platelet transfusion?

Cancer patients, leukemia patients, and people who have been transplanted suffered significant trauma, undergone cardiovascular surgery, or been complicated during surgery may need a platelet transfusion to stabilize their health. Unlike other blood compounds, once platelets are donated, they can only be stored for five days.

Platelet transfusion

There are two types of platelet concentrates obtained through a whole blood donation and platelets obtained from a single donor through a process known as apheresis. What is apheresis? It is a unique form of blood donation in which special machines are used to separate blood components and obtain specific blood cells, such as platelets.

How are platelets separated from the blood?

After the blood donation is made, the various components of the fluid (blood cells, plasma, and platelets) are separated in a centrifuge machine. However, from each unit of blood that is donated, only one unit of platelets can be obtained; for this reason, to get a greater quantity of platelets and make a transfusion of these cells possible, donation by apheresis is used, which can be collected in a single gift of a single patient all the requirement to supply platelets to an adult person.

Who can donate platelets?

Anyone who is considered fit to donate blood can donate platelets. Apheresis donors must meet the following requirements:

  • Weigh more than 50 kg.
  • To be over 18 years old.
  • Be in good health.
  • They cannot have consumed aspirin for at least 72 hours before donation.
  • As with a regular blood donation, an interview and blood test will be conducted to verify the person’s lifestyle and verify that their blood is free of viruses, infections, or bacteria.
  • Platelets can be donated up to 24 times each year. Once the donation is made, you must wait 72 hours to transfer another platelet unit.

What is platelet transfusion for?

Platelet transfusion is the most effective mechanism for saving a person’s life or compensating for their health condition when chronic bleeding occurs. The person has lost a large amount of blood. Likewise, this type of transfusion is also recommended to treat some diseases or improve their symptoms. The situations in which a platelet transfusion is considered pertinent are:

  • Cardiac surgeries . During heart surgery, the person can lose a lot of blood. A platelet transfusion is carried out to avoid bleeding occurring or the person decompensation during the surgery.
  • Trauma or injury . When a person has suffered moderately severe damage and has lost a lot of blood due to internal or external bleeding, it may be necessary to compensate with a platelet blood transfusion to stop the bleeding.
  • Surgical complications. A platelet transfusion may also be required when surgical intervention is complicated by bleeding.
  • Prophylactic transfusion. After analyzing the number of platelets in a person, the blood results are below normal levels. Some of the conditions that suggest this transfusion are acute thrombocytopenia and severe spinal dysplasia. This transfusion can also be done to prevent bleeding in people treated with intensive chemotherapy or who have received an organ or stem cell transplant.
  • Neonatal transfusion . Premature babies are usually born with platelet levels lower than usual; in these cases, a platelet transfusion can be performed when the count is less than 50.
  • Platelet transfusions also serve as a treatment for people with impaired bone marrow function, acute leukemia, and other hematological disorders such as some types of anemia.

Is it safe to donate platelets?

Yes, during the donation process, the medical team of the blood bank will be supervising everything in case of any inconvenience. During the donation, the donor will not run any risk of bleeding, hemorrhage, or decompensation since the donated platelet units are replaced during the next 24 hours by the natural production of the same in the bone marrow.

The procedure for donating platelets consists of extracting the donor’s blood through a sterile tubing machine to place it in a centrifuge and separate the platelets. Once the blood cells are separated, the rest of the blood returns to the donor through another tube located in the opposite arm. The platelet donation process can take anywhere from 70 to 120 minutes.

Platelet Transfusion Risks

Receiving any blood component from another person represents a risk of contracting infection, bacteria, or virus that has not been correctly identified in the donor’s blood test. For this reason, many people fear becoming infected with HIV, hepatitis, and other blood-borne diseases through transfusion.

However, although this procedure does not guarantee 100% of your safety, it is essential to inform that for a person to be eligible to donate blood, they must answer a relatively extensive test on risk factors for infections, trips made, drug use, the existence of tattoos and other general habits that allow the blood bank specialist to determine whether or not the person can supply their blood to another person. In addition, once the person donates, the fluid is examined with all kinds of blood tests that rule out any infection or disease. Only when the blood has been verified to be clean is it authorized to be donated.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is platelet transfusion for, we recommend that you enter our category of Blood, heart and circulation .

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