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Platelet donor Kathleen reaches an incredible 1500 donation credits

16 December 2019

Kathleen Hodson (76) of St Austell, Cornwall, travelled to Plymouth Donor Centre on Thursday 12 December for her regular platelet donation appointment. This was no ordinary visit though, as it brought her overall blood and platelet donation credits to an astounding 1500!

Kathleen started donating blood 54 years ago in 1965 and she has amassed an incredible total number of credits by making regular blood donations, before switching to even more frequent platelet donations [1] [2].

It’s not possible to know for sure how many people Kathleen has helped but because each blood and platelet donation can help several people, more than 5,000 people could have received her blood and platelets.

Platelets are tiny cells in our blood which help it to clot and prevent bleeding. 69% of all platelets issued to hospitals by NHS Blood and Transplant go to help people with cancer.

Asked why she became a platelet donor, Kathleen said, “I was donating blood on holiday in Jersey and I saw someone donating platelets – I wanted to find out if I was able to give my platelets instead. It’s my way to help people in need and I am hoping to encourage others to do the same.


“I donate platelets once a fortnight and my son has signed up to become a blood donor, as he was not suitable for platelet donation [3]. I want people to know that the donation process is a pleasant experience and by becoming a donor, you can really help others.

“I really enjoy getting a text message to let me know which hospital my platelets have gone to. My son and I are having a competition to see which one of our donations travels the furthest in the country! 

“My husband is wonderful as he drives me from St Austell so I can attend my donation appointments. I love to know that by donating I am helping to improve the lives of so many others and will continue for as long as I am able.” 

Jane Murphy, Plymouth Donor Centre Manager, said, “Kathleen is an amazing human being who has selflessly given so much of her time to help others. Her commitment to keeping her regular appointments and travelling from St Austell is second to none. Thank you Kathleen! 

“Her noble generosity is greatly appreciated by the team in Plymouth and everyone at NHS Blood and Transplant, but most importantly the people who rely on donors like Kathleen for their treatment. 

“In the past there were more male platelet donors than female, but due to a change in testing availability our number of female donors are rising. 

“There is a need for more male and female A negative platelet donors, as anyone can receive A negative platelets [4], so please consider becoming a donor if you can.” 

For information about platelet donation visit the platelet donation website, or ask at your next donation session.

 

Notes

  1. Men can give blood every 12 weeks and women can give blood every 16 weeks. Platelet donors may donate up to 24 times a year with a minimum interval between donations of 14 days. Once a donor has joined the platelet panel, we ask them to give platelets only. This helps us maintain our supply of platelets to patients by having a number of committed donors on whom we can call. If a donor wishes to return to donating blood after donating platelets, they will need to wait 4 weeks before donating blood. For more information, visit the who can give blood section of our website or check our platelet donation FAQs.
  2. Our donor recognition scheme recognises donors for reaching donation credit milestones. These milestones are the same for all types of donation. The number of credits awarded depends on the type of donation made. The most common donation types are: Whole blood - one credit; Platelet (double donation) - two credits; and Platelet (triple donation) - three credits. On some occasions we recognise donors who attempt but are unable to donate. For example, if a donor attends but cannot donate due to low haemoglobin, we will still award them a credit.
  3. Eligibility criteria in terms of age and health are the same for blood and platelet donors, but for platelet donation we need to assess height and weight ratio to check blood volume, have suitable veins and have a high enough platelet count. Female donors also need to be screened for antibodies that might have built up during pregnancy. A donor cannot donate platelets if they have taken aspirin, aspirin-containing medications, piroxicam or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen in the 48 hours before donation. This is because these drugs affect the potency and performance of platelets.
  4. A negative red blood cells can be used to treat around 40% of the population. However, A negative platelets are particularly important because they can be given to people from all blood groups. That’s why A negative platelets are called the ‘universal platelet type’.

 

Images

  • 1 – Kathleen Hodson and husband Eden Hodson at Plymouth Donor Centre.
  • 2 – Record of Kathleen’s first blood donation in March 1965, under her maiden name.
  • 3 – Jane Murphy, Plymouth Donor Centre Manager and Kathleen Hodson at Plymouth Donor Centre.