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We are proud to report that our new platelet program in Salisbury, MD, has successfully begun.

On Monday, Eric Van Hall Jr. was the first donor to give platelets in our Salisbury Donor Center, making BBD history.

Eric, whose blood type is A positive, was recruited to give platelets by one of our donor schedulers and he readily agreed. Eric is used to a life of service as a sergeant with the Town of Denton (MD) Police Department and a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.

“I wanted to step up and help people,” Eric said. “Let’s be realistic about it. It could be you. It could be me. It could anybody in my family, your family. We need people who are willing to help in order for us to survive. It’s all about being a good human being.”

The second platelet donor was Jamie Harding, another A positive, whole blood donor who converted to automation. She too was called by Donor Scheduling, who did a marvelous job explaining the procedure and the constant need for platelets. Jamie understood the procedure was longer – two hours – but she agreed when she found out Lead Blood Collection Tech LeAnne Butler would handle her procedure.

“I trust her; she does this all the time,” Jamie said. “So, that was it – whatever helps.”

Along with LeAnne, Director of Donor Services Rachele Allison, Manager of Donor Services-South Paige McIlvain and Technical Support Specialist Erin Milloway were in Salisbury to assist with the new platelet program. And, logistics driver Bill Ivers transported the first platelets donated in Salisbury back to the laboratories.

The addition of platelet donations in Salisbury will be a great boost to BBD’s ability to meet the demand for platelets in Delmarva via new donors, Rachele said. The goal is to schedule five platelet donors per day, five days a week.

“That has the potential to be, at a minimum, 50 products a week,” Rachele said. “Once more donors know it’s here, we’re hoping more people will give it a try.”

Platelets are collected via a process called apheresis on the Amicus Separator machine. Apheresis comes from the Greek word meaning “to separate.” Blood is collected, separated and two to three units of platelets are kept along with two to three units of plasma. Donors are given their red blood cells back along with saline to replace the plasma taken.

Platelets are the tiny cells responsible for clotting, and plasma is the straw colored liquid that accounts for 55 percent of blood volume. The process takes about two hours.

In comparison, whole blood donations take about one hour from registration to check out and their unit of blood is separated in the lab into red blood cells and plasma.

If you are interested in donating platelets, please call 1-888-8-BLOOD-8 or click here.