Platelet donation 

A platelet donation involves using special equipment to separate platelet cells from donated blood.

Platelet cells are very useful for treating a range of conditions and situations, including:

  • leukaemia (bone marrow cancer)
  • excessive blood loss
  • people who have just received a bone marrow transplant

The advantage of platelet donations is that a small amount can be used to treat several people. One donation is often enough to treat up to three adults, or 12 children.

The disadvantage is that donated platelets can only be stored safely for seven days. This means there is a constant demand for new donors.

Not everyone who can donate blood is able to donate platelets, because you need a higher-than-average platelet rate in your blood for the donation to be successful. Your platelet rate will be tested before the donation goes ahead.

Do not be alarmed if testing shows you have an average platelet rate and are unable to donate platelets. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.

The donation procedure is similar to regular blood donation, except it takes slightly longer (about 90 minutes).

The rules for who cannot donate are similar to those for donating blood. However, you also cannot donate platelets if:

Read more about who can make a blood donation.

Due to the specialised equipment needed to separate platelets from the blood, a donation can only be made at specialised platelet donation centres.

There are currently 24 donation centres in England, all located in larger towns and cities. A list of donation centres can be found on the NHS Blood and Transplant website.

Also, see the NHS Blood and Transplant website for more information about the platelet donation procedure, or call 0300 123 23 23 to find out more.

Page last reviewed: 07/10/2014

Next review due: 07/10/2016