You can donate blood platelets to save lives Image Credit: Suplied

I am regular blood donor at Dubai Blood Donation Center (DBDC). One morning, I decided to visit the center and donate my blood. I was surprised when the front desk staff asked me what type of donation I would prefer. I replied, blood donation, of course. I got confused and curious with her question and my prying eyes started to wander around looking for services other than blood donation.

After filling out all the questionnaires, I was given a queue number. A few minutes later, my number was called and the staff nurse started to ask the usual questions prior to donating blood. To satisfy my curiosity, I asked, “Apart from blood, what else can I donate at DBDC?” The nurse replied, “Platelets”. Not having enough background in the medical field, I was stunned to hear that a platelet donation exists. I then started asking questions and she gladly led me to a room where I was met by another staff member. He patiently answered all my questions and even informed me that the country is in need of platelet donors to treat those who are suffering from leukemia and individuals, even infants, diagnosed with any type of cancer. The next thing I know, I was already sitting in a nice, comfortable chair and ready to have my very first platelet donation.

A platelet transfusion can be the difference between life and death. It is important to donate platelets as it is a lifesaving therapy for individuals diagnosed with cancer, leukemia patients receiving treatment and even those who require bone marrow.

It is very emotionally satisfying to make such a donation, the feeling of gratification and over-flowing happiness knowing that a small part of me helped a complete stranger.

The needle insertion was nothing new considering the number of times I have donated blood. The entire process just took around 45 minutes.

Spread awareness

After getting introduced to the concept of platelet donation, I wondered whether others, like me, were unware of it. I believe the public needs to be more aware about its importance.

The UAE is home to millions. If we start spreading awareness now and share information to the public it will definitely make a big difference. I am living proof that not everyone has heard about the possibility and health benefits of platelet donation. The difference can actually save lives.

I request the Dubai Health Authority to please spread the news to the general public.

We don’t need to be a doctor to save lives. It could simply be done by donating blood or platelets. You never know, that stranger standing next to you or that person you see on your daily commute is the recipient of your goodwill. I encourage everyone to pay it forward and look into donating platelets.

- The reader is based in Dubai

Dubai Health Authority comment

Dr Mai Raouf, Director of the Dubai Blood Donation Centre at DHA said: “Platelets are a type of blood cell that are essential for blood clotting. Patients with serious medical problems, such as leukemia and cancer or those with hereditary abnormality in platelet function often receive platelets. Platelets are used in cases such as trauma or postpartum bleeding. Donating platelets is a safe procedure and the body replaces the donated platelets very quickly, in less than 48 hours. In fact, you can donate platelets more frequently than whole blood. Platelets may be donated once every month. This special type of donation takes about 90 minutes.” She added that on a daily basis the centre needs 20 to 25 units of platelets. Dr Raouf emphasised on the importance of platelet donation as they have a very short shelf life of only five days.