For the first time, people wanting to make a lifesaving difference in the Salem area can donate platelets at the American Red Cross Salem Blood Donation Center.

This comes as the Red Cross issues a call for platelet and type O negative and AB blood donors to make an appointment to give after severe winter weather in some parts of the country caused about 250 Red Cross blood drives to cancel in March, resulting in more than 8,500 uncollected blood and platelet donations.

The Salem donation center will begin collecting platelet donations for patients battling cancer and others with life-threatening illnesses or injuries. Platelets are the clotting portion of blood and are needed for many reasons, but they are primarily given to cancer patients.

These tiny cells have a very short shelf life – just five days from the time they are donated – so there is a constant, often critical, need for new and current donors to give to keep up with hospital demand for platelets. Every 30 seconds, someone in the United States needs platelets, and over 1 million platelet transfusions are given to patients each year.

“Platelet donors can make a profound difference in the lives of seriously ill patients, particularly those battling cancer,” says Karen Ellis, Apheresis Operations manager of the Pacific Northwest Blood Services Region. “Most of us will be touched by cancer in some way in our lives. By making a platelet donation, donors can help someone kick cancer, giving them hope and potentially a lifetime of memories.”

More than 1.6 million new cancer cases are diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Some chemotherapy drugs and radiation used to treat cancer can affect the bone marrow where platelets are produced, and platelet transfusions are often needed to prevent life-threatening bleeding.

“All blood types are needed to meet the constant need of patients, and there is a significant need now for platelet and type O negative and AB donations to help some of the most vulnerable patients,” says Neil Tosuntikool, director of re-cruitment for the Pacific Northwest Red Cross Blood Services. “We ask that you schedule an appointment to roll up a sleeve to help save a life in the coming days.”

Platelets, type O negative blood and type AB plasma are three of the most in-demand blood products by hospitals. Those who give can help patients locally or across the country as the Red Cross has the ability to move blood products where and when they are needed most.

Type O negative blood can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is often needed in emergency situations when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type. While less than 7 percent of the U.S. population has type O negative blood, hospitals depend on frequent O negative donations to ensure it’s always available for patients in need. Type O negative blood donors are an important part of the Red Cross trauma team.

Type AB is the universal plasma type and can be transfused to patients of any blood type in an emergency. Plasma helps maintain blood pressure and supplies critical proteins for clotting and immunity. Plasma can be donated through a blood or platelet donation, or through a plasma-only donation where available.

During a platelet donation, blood is collected by a device that separates platelets, along with some plasma, from whole blood, and the remaining blood components are returned to the donor. The entire process takes about two to three hours, and donors are encouraged to relax during the donation – videos, television and wireless internet are available.

Donors with types A positive and AB blood are especially encouraged to give platelets. Type AB platelets and plasma can be given to nearly all patients, regardless blood type. Platelets may be donated every seven days, up to 24 times a year.

The Salem Oregon Donor Center is located at 475 Cottage St. NE, Suite 110. Platelet donation hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Blood donation hours are 2 to 7 p.m. Monday, 1:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thurs-day, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. the first Saturday of the month.

Call 800-733-2767 to make an appointment or for more information. Visit to complete pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire.

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