New platelet donor appeal launched for World Cancer Day

1 February 2023

New figures reveal that 1,800 new platelet donors are needed this year to help provide life-saving treatments for cancer patients. This World Cancer Day, NHS Blood and Transplant is urging blood donors who have blood types A negative, A positive and AB negative to consider switching to donating platelets.

Blood donors are being urged to make the switch to platelets to replace those who no longer donate so the NHS can continue to provide patients with this life saving blood product.

The current number of dedicated platelet donors in England is just over 10,000 but an additional 1,800 new donors are needed to come forward in 2023.
Platelets are gold-coloured cells which help blood to clot and one donation can help up to three adults or 12 children.

Most donations help people with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy to avoid blood-loss, but platelet transfusions also help people who’ve lost a lot of blood after an accident, organ transplant or surgery.

Evie's story

Evie Herriott before platelets treatmentEvie Herriott, 4, from Shoreham in West Sussex has received 17 blood and platelet transfusions while undergoing 14 months of treatment for neuroblastoma – a rare childhood cancer. Evie was just 21 months old when she was diagnosed.

Mum Kelly says " After each transfusion the colour would come back to Evie’s face immediately; her energy levels would dramatically increase and she responded better to treatment.

“It’s something we never thought would happen to us – childhood cancer. As a child Evie hasn’t carried the worries that we as parents or her older brother Harry have; it’s been tough for us all in different ways.

“Living in this world of childhood cancer we have met so many children who rely on platelet transfusions as part of their treatment. Before Evie’s treatment I had never heard of platelet donation and had no idea how of how much is needed to treat childhood cancer.

“Evie rung the bell to mark the end of her treatment on her third birthday in December 2021.Follow up checks have shown that Evie is doing well and this has also meant she was able to start pre-school in January 2023.

“We’ll always worry and double check over bruises and be extra cautious when she is ill but thanks to blood and platelet donors Evie is now a happy, independent, fun loving four-year-old. She loves anything girly, especially unicorns, and loves Peppa Pig and princesses and playing with her dolls.

“Blood and Platelet donors have made a massive difference to Evie, and we are incredibly grateful.”Evie after treatment

Becoming a platelet donor

The current number of dedicated platelet donors in England is just over 10,000 but an additional 1,800 new donors are needed to come forward in 2023.

Platelets last just seven days after they’ve been donated.

Although men and women can donate platelets and there are no age restrictions, people need to be, or have been, a blood donor before switching to platelet donation.

Daniel Clarke, head of component integration, said: “Platelets save lives, and these donors are often the unheard heroes of the donation community. A negative, A positive and AB Negative are the blood types that are most needed because they suit most people who need a platelet transfusion.

“We are hugely grateful to our dedicated platelet donors who already make the commitment to save up to 12 children’s lives or three adult’s lives every time they donate. Platelet donation is a precious gift of life and helps many adults and children get the best chance of recovery from cancer, amongst other things.

“If you’re already a blood donor it’s easy to find out if you are suitable for platelet donation, visit our website or speak to one of the team at your next donation. Or if you’ve never donated blood before, this World Cancer Day please take a few moments to visit and register to become a blood donor.”

Find out more about platelet donation.

If you are suitable to donate platelets, we will contact you to let you know how you can set up your first platelet donation.