You may know that platelets help cancer, trauma, transplant and burn patients survive and get through treatment. But there is so much more to know about them.
What are platelets – scientifically?
Platelets are small and colorless stem cell fragments made in your bone marrow, just like your white and red blood cells. They are disk-shaped and don’t have a nucleus.
Your body has 150,000 – 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood, and because they only live for 10 days, your bone marrow creates millions of platelets every day.
These tiny blood cells help your body form clots to stop bleeding by rushing to the site of damage or trauma (like a paper cut or a scrape) and form a plug to fix the wound.
This plug is called a blood clot and is formed by platelets spreading across the surfaces of damaged blood vessels and growing sticky tentacles that help them adhere to one another. Platelets also send out a chemical signal to attract more platelets.
What are platelets – in everyday life?
Your body’s ability to successfully stop bleeding is essential for survival. Otherwise we would bleed to death from even the smallest of paper cuts.
Sometimes the body does not make enough platelets. This could be due to illness, injury and even cancer treatments. For those people who do not make enough platelets, a small cut can lead to a dangerous amount of blood loss.
Because of this, we ask those with blood types A+, B+, AB-, AB+ and O+ who are able, to donate platelets. Platelet donors can donate once every 7 days, up to 24 times a year. (Schedule your next platelet donation today!)