Central Blood Bank


Platelets are the component of your blood that initiates clotting when you receive a cut or a bruise, preventing excessive blood loss and further damage to your blood vessels.

Patients with cancer or leukemia, transplant patients and those with blood disorders often need platelet transfusions. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment kills both cancer cells and platelets. Without platelet transfusions, these patients could die from uncontrolled bleeding. 

There is a constant need for platelets for local patients!

How You Can Help: Donate Platelets

When you donate whole blood, your one unit is divided into three components: platelets, plasma and red cells. It takes four of these platelets to make enough for one patient’s transfusion – or four volunteer donors. However, if you donate platelets only, your donation is enough to provide the entire transfusion for one patient.

Taylor Ayers platelet donation Pitt Greeks 3.17 FB size

How It’s Done

Blood type is not a factor in platelet transfusions – patients can receive platelets from any blood type, not just one that matches theirs. Because so few patients need A positive or B positive red blood cells, donors with these blood types are often asked to give platelets.

Platelets are donated through a machine, in a process called apheresis:

  • Blood is withdrawn through a needle in the arm, same as with whole blood donations. The blood travels through the centrifuge machine, which separates out the platelets and returns the rest to the donor through the same arm.
  • The donation process takes about 90 minutes; including check in and mini-physical, allow about 2 hours total.
  • The donation does not significantly decrease the number of platelets in the donor’s body, and the donated platelets are replaced in approximately two days.
  • Platelet donors can donate every seven days and up to 24 times a year.
  • The minimum age to donate platelets is 18 (16-and 17-years-old with signed parental consent form*), and platelet donors must weigh at least 110 lbs.

How to Prepare for a Platelet Donation

  • Prepare for your donation as you would with a whole blood donation: drink lots of non-caffeinated fluids, and eat well and get a good night’s sleep prior to donation.
  • Increasing calcium intake by consuming dairy products such as milk, ice cream and milkshakes in the days prior helps prevent cramping.
  • DO NOT take aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for at least 48 hours before your donation or you cannot donate.

If you have additional questions, contact our Medical Help Desk by calling 1-800-310-9556, Option 1 (or direct dial 412-209-7035) or submitting an inquiry through our Contact Us page.

*Download the parental consent form in English or Spanish (will open as a .pdf).

Central Blood Bank collects platelets at the community donor centers listed below. Platelets are also collected at some mobile drives, but please check if platelet donation will be available when making your appointment.

Click on the center to schedule your lifesaving platelet donation appointment. Mobile drives can be found here.

Butler Moon Township
Downtown Pittsburgh North Hills
Greensburg Peters Township
Green Tree St. Clair Hospital
Harmar/Fox Chapel Area South Hills
Monroeville Washington