Millions of Americans will use Memorial Day weekend to take a break from life's rigors.
But for those needing a blood transfusion following an accident or for others who are in the hospital battling cancer, the upcoming holiday weekend creates an added hurdle to their healing.
LifeSource is urging area residents to donate platelets now before the long Memorial Day weekend. This will help boost a low supply and meet the transfusion needs of patients during the upcoming holiday. Currently, platelet usage by hospital patients in the Chicago area is slightly higher than average while in some areas it is considerably higher.
Platelets are a special component of blood that helps control bleeding. They have a shelf life of only five days so it's extremely important to continuously replenish the supply.
"Right now, we're seeing an increase in the number of platelets needed by patients," Eva Quinley, LifeSource Regional Director said. "We work hard to efficiently manage the community blood supply, but it can be challenging at times to predict which components may be needed more than others on any given day or week."
Donors are urged to call (877) 543-3768 or visit lifesource.org to make an appointment.
Chemotherapy treatments can often cause patients to lose valuable blood platelets -- the specialized blood cells that help control blood clotting.
Platelets may also be needed to help with clotting in cases of massive bleeding. Because platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, there is a constant and often critical need to keep up with hospital demand.
"When a their levels fall too low, patients are given a transfusion of platelets that both replenishes their blood supply and prevents life threatening hemorrhages," Quinley added. "Their healing is dependent on the generosity of others."
A platelet donation takes little longer than the traditional, whole blood donation. The procedure is frequently performed at a community donor center via an automated, filtering system that removes the platelets while returning the other blood components back to the donor.
Because the process is less invasive donors can support patients every two weeks through platelet donations.
LifeSource operates 17 Chicago and suburban community donor centers and hosts daily mobile blood drives throughout northern Illinois.
The blood donation process takes about an hour and is both safe and comfortable.
Appointments are suggested but walk-ins are always welcome. Donors must be at least 18 years old (16 and 17 years of age with parental consent).
In preparation for their donation, donors are asked to eat well, stay hydrated and arrive with proper identification. Proper ID is required to donate blood.
A LifeSource or military ID, driver's license or employee badge with a picture and full name are all approved forms of ID.
A birth certificate along with a picture ID that includes the donor's full name will also be accepted.
For more information including donor center locations, additional donor eligibility and qualifications, or to schedule an appointment, visit LifeSource.org or call (877) 543-3768.