Start giving platelets this World Cancer Day

1 February 2024

New figures reveal that 4,000 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. They can be given to almost everyone and are constantly needed by hospitals. 

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.

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.

The current number of dedicated platelet donors in England is just over 10,000 but an additional 4,000 new donors are needed to come forward in 2024.

Find out more about platelet donation.

Jasmine's story

“I wouldn’t have survived without the transfusions. It’s thanks to the donors that I can watch my children grow up and that I am here today.” Jasmine with her husband and 2 young boys

Jasmine Barnett from South Elmsall in Pontefract, West Yorkshire received 35 platelet transfusions, eight transfusions of red blood cells, and six transfusions of plasma and cryoprecipitate during her treatment for acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL), a rare cancer.

Jasmine was diagnosed 5 years ago this month, very close to World Cancer Day.

At the time of diagnosis, Jasmine’s platelet count was about one sixtieth of what it should be. Platelets help stop bleeding, and people with acute promyelocytic leukaemia are at serious risk of fatal brain haemorrhages.

“I used to look at the bags and wonder where the blood and platelets had come from and who the donor was. My husband is now a regular donor.”

"This year I will hopefully be 5 years in remission!"

Becoming a platelet donor

The current number of dedicated platelet donors in England is just over 10,000 but an additional 4,000 new donors are needed to come forward in 2024.

By becoming a platelet donor, you will join a community of donors across England who save lives every day.

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.

Find out more about platelet donation.

Mark Chambers, Deputy Director, Donor Experience & Communications, 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.”