New platelet donor Cecil Reese with CBC Preble Co. Rep. Sharon Spitler.

EATON, Ohio – Donors are sending a strong message to Community Blood Center (CBC) that they like it when CBC comes to them – with conveniently timed and placed mobile blood drives in their communities – so they don’t have to travel to centralized branches.  Now that message is influencing the way CBC recruits and collects vital automated donations of platelets and plasma in Preble County.

All blood donations have life-saving value, but platelet donations are in particular demand.  They are the sticky cells that form clots that control bleeding, and are a vital therapy to cancer patients who lose platelets to both the disease and chemotherapy.  Adding to the ongoing need is their limited shelf life of only five days.

CBC launched the Preble Co. mobile apheresis collection campaign in Eaton on Thursday, March 29 at the Omicron Sigma Sorority Blood Drive, held at the old Church of the Brethren.  In the weeks leading up to the drive, CBC Automated Donor Relations Specialist Marilyn Staker recruited male CBC Preble Co. whole blood donors of A and B blood types to become platelet donors.  Three automated machines were transported to the Church of the Brethren and 12 apheresis appointments were scheduled for the Mary 29 drive.

“I asked them,” said Marilyn, “and the majority stepped up and said they would do it.”  Despite that quick show of support, donors have to consider what apheresis involves before deciding.  The machine can remove one or more blood products (platelets, plasma and red blood cells) and return what is not needed, but the process takes longer (about an hour compared to 15-20 minutes for a whole blood donation).

“It doesn’t bother me,” said Cecil Reese as he made his first platelet donation at the Eaton drive.  It marked his 140th lifetime donation, and he had made automated double red blood cell donations.  Now with the convenience of having apheresis machines available in his home town, he said, “I’ll probably do it again.”

Robert Parks, who made his 92nd donation at the drive, admitted to being “concerned about what it was all about,” but concluded, “It was no problem.  I’ll do it next time.”

A motivation for Robert was knowing that his blood type made him a particularly strong candidate to be a platelet donor.  “It king of makes you feel special,” he said smiling. “Not everyone can probably do this.  I feel special to donate platelets to a specific cause.”

New platelet donor Tom Crumbaker.

Tom Crumbaker of Camden had experience with automated double red blood cell donations, which made for an easy transition to platelets.  “Wherever they need, me I’ll do it,” he said.

He had never been asked to travel to Dayton to make a platelet donation.  “I suppose I would have if I had to because it’s important.  But I’d rather come here because it’s closer!”

The March 29 drive was the first of six on the 2012 Preble Co. calendar that now include the expanded apheresis collections.  The next is May 24, also at Church of the Brethren.

CBC Apheresis Donor Relations Specialist Marilyn Staker hands an appointment card to new platelet donor Robert Parks.

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