Donating blood can be a life saving gift. But many people choose to donate their blood in a very different but much needed way.
Many premature babies cling to life because they're born with a short supply of platelets. Les Long from United Blood Services says platelets are present in the blood and help form clots to stop bleeding but can also help strengthen the immune system.
"Particularly for people like cancer patients, leukemia patients, premature born babies," he explains.
Even though blood has a 42 day shelf life, platelets only last three days, so it's important for United Blood Services to have a constant supply.
"One of those days gets used for bacteria testing, so then we end up with two days to match them, so we have to make sure we draw platelets in the same regular pattern that people need them," said Les.
Susan Shelby, a regular donor for three years, says she donates platelets in honor of her mother.
"My mother had breast cancer in her 30's and I came in to donate blood and they asked if I could donate platelets and thought of my mother and been doing it ever since, several years," she said.
And her decision has been life saving. "I 've donated recently to a friend of mine that was diagnosed with leukemia and I donated platelets for her in her name."
United Blood Services uses a Trima machine to collect platelets. The platelets are actually separated out of the blood and donors can monitor how much they've donated and how much time they have left.
"This machine makes things more efficient and also safer because it's a cleaner process, it's very important to us," Les said.
Donating platelets can take up to two hours so donors just kick back and watch a movie or read while making this life saving donation.
"They are a thing that are an urgency to us everyday, and if not to us, to the pediatric wards where they are working with premature born babies or are treating people with leukemia, those people have urgency," he adds.
Platelet donors can give up to 24 times a year. To be a donor, you can call United Blood Services at (806) 741-1752.
Basic Requirements to be a Platelet Donor: