Blood platelet supply in the Chattanooga region is critically low, according to a news release from the nonprofit community blood center Blood Assurance.
The blood center, the sole supplier of blood and blood products to local hospitals in the greater Chattanooga area, needs 75-100 platelet units on hand each day to supply more than 70 hospitals around the region.
As of Monday morning, Blood Assurance only had 32 platelet units available, prompting the center to issue an "urgent plea" for donors.
"The need is critical," Dr. Liz Culler, chief medical officer for Blood Assurance, said in the news release. "Our family members, friends and neighbors battling cancer and other debilitating illnesses may very well require platelet transfusions as part of their treatment. The time to act is now."
HOW TO DONATEDonors can visit www.bloodassurance.org/schedule, call 800-962-0628, or text BAGIVE to 999777, to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are also accepted.
Culler noted that platelets need to be collected frequently because they have a shorter shelf life than other blood products.
In a previous interview with the Times Free Press, Blood Assurance officials said that platelets cannot be stored for more than five days while red blood cells can be stored for up to 42 days.
Platelets are an irregular, disc-shaped element in the blood that assists in blood clotting, according to the release.
Patients who experience trauma, bleeding during surgery, patients with aplastic anemia, transplant recipients, patients with leukemia and patients receiving treatment for cancer can all require platelets as part of their treatment, according to the release. Certain blood disorders can also make people unable to produce healthy platelets on their own.
To encourage more people to donate, Blood Assurance is offering all platelet donors a $20 Amazon or Mastercard gift through Friday. Platelet donors can give every seven days and up to 24 times a year, and the donation process usually takes between 60-90 minutes, according to the release.
Donors must be at least 17 years old, or 16 years old with parental consent, and weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health.
Contact Elizabeth Fite at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6673. Follow her on Twitter @ecfite.