Red Cross Offers Surprising Way to Help Patients Kick Cancer 

Give platelets or blood to help patients battling cancer

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (March 18, 2019) — People may be surprised that they can play a direct role in the fight against cancer, and it’s easier than they might think. By donating platelets or blood through the American Red Cross, donors can share their strength and help patients kick cancer.

Platelets are tiny cells that form clots and stop bleeding. About 2 million units of platelets are transfused each year in the U.S., and more than half of all donated platelets go to cancer patients.

“Some cancers and certain types of chemotherapy drugs and radiation can damage bone marrow, where red blood cells and platelets are produced,” said Dr. Pampee P. Young, chief medical officer, American Red Cross. “Cancer patients often require blood products during treatment or after surgical procedures. Platelet transfusions, in particular, are needed to prevent life-threatening bleeding and help cancer patients continue receiving lifesaving treatments.”

Because platelets must be transfused within just five days from the time they are donated, platelet donors have the power to help save up to three lives within days of their donation. Jim Landewe is a Springfield resident who donates platelets regularly at the Red Cross donor center. To date, he has donated over 62 gallons of blood products and he knows they are all important.

“I do it because I can,” said Landewe. “I know there are a lot of people who need it. I get the Red Cross (email) newsletters and I see the stories. If I can help I will continue to do it.” 

In addition to cancer patients, platelets and blood are needed every day for lifesaving surgeries, traumas and those living with blood disorders. The Red Cross must collect more than 2,500 platelet and about 13,000 blood donations every day for patients at about 2,500 hospitals nationwide. In the Greater Ozarks & Arkansas Blood Services Region, 22 platelet donations and 61 blood donations are needed each day. 

Platelet donation is available at the local platelet donation center: Red Cross Donor Center, 313 Battlefield Rd. Ste B, Springfield; open Mon. and Tues. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Fri-Sun. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Appointments are encouraged and can be made using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org/Cancer or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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 – Netflix, videos, television and wireless internet are available. Platelets may be donated every seven days, up to 24 times a year. 

Blood donations can be made at the following upcoming blood drives. Eligible donors of all blood types, especially type O, are urged to make an appointment to give now. Simply download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make a blood donation appointment.