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.