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Can Previously Pregnant Women Donate Platelets?

Heather Georgoudiou
August 24, 2021

Platelets are cell fragments in your blood that help form clots to prevent bleeding. Hospitals use platelet donations to treat cancer, trauma, and burn patients. Many women are lifelong platelet donors and save countless lives by giving platelets on a regular basis. For women who have been pregnant, their platelet donations are tested for Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) antibodies. 

The presence of antibodies to Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) in the blood can cause an adverse reaction in patients receiving blood including lung injury and poor response to platelet transfusions.

All individuals have HLA antigens.  Antibodies to HLA antigens most often develop as a result of the woman being exposed to fetal blood in her body. It is very common for HLA antibodies to form in the blood of women during pregnancy.

Less common causes of HLA antibodies are blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants and these HLA antibodies can be present in both men and women. Once the antibodies develop, they are present in the blood forever. The presence of the HLA antibody is of no medical significance to a woman’s health.  

However, the majority of women who have been pregnant do not have  HLA antibodies.

OneBlood accepts platelet donations from women who have been pregnant and performs an HLA antibody test on their platelets. If the test comes back negative, then the donor can donate platelets in the future. Women are a large percentage of platelet donors and many have made giving platelets a lifelong habit.

Facts about platelets. Platelets help stop bleeding in people who have transplant or cardiac surgeries.

Does the Presence of HLA Mean a Woman Can’t Donate Blood at All?

No, there are still donation options available for people with HLA.

  • People with O-, O+, B-, B+, A- and A+ blood types can still save lives by donating whole blood or automated double red blood cells.
  • People with AB- or AB+ blood types can still save lives by donating whole blood

Meet Louise, a Mom, and a Platelet Donor

Louise is a regular at her local gym teaching a weekly cross-fit class and spending time there unwinding. When she’s not working on her own health and fitness, she’s also a regular at her local OneBlood donation center.

“Every other Sunday I go and I give platelets,” she said. “I’m almost at 53 gallons, so that’s about 10-plus years of both blood and platelet donations.”

She uses her time in the chair to share photos of the donation process on her Instagram account, encouraging her followers to step up and donate themselves.

Platelet donor Louise wearing I am oneblood t-shirt

Read more about Louise’s story.

Donating Platelets

Appointments are highly recommended to give platelets. A platelet donation can take at least 90 minutes, which includes registration, health and wellness check, and donation. Most platelet donations are done in OneBlood donor centers. Our donor centers have Wi-Fi capability so donors can catch up on emails, binge-watch their favorite TV show, read a book, or just relax.

List of blood types recommended for platelet donation

Ready to become a platelet hero? Schedule an appointment today!

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Heather Georgoudiou

Heather Georgoudiou is OneBlood’s Digital Marketing Manager. She is a social media strategist and content creator with a passion for saving lives through the power of digital communications. 

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