Can women donate platelets?

Heather Georgoudiou July 16, 2019

Providing a safe and adequate blood supply to patients in need is a top priority for OneBlood. The presence of Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) in the blood can cause an adverse reaction in patients receiving blood. And women who have previously been pregnant are more likely to have these antibodies. But being a woman is not an automatic disqualification for donating platelets.

In fact, a woman having a prior pregnancy is no longer an automatic deferral for platelet donations either.

Previously, responding “Yes” on the Donor History Questionnaire to the question “Have you ever been pregnant?” would be an automatic deferral for platelet donations. However 80 percent of women who have been pregnant do not have the HLA antibody.

Today, we accept platelet donations from women who have been pregnant and perform an HLA test on their platelets. If the test comes back negative, then the donor can continue to donate platelets in the future.

HLA develops as a result of the woman being exposed to fetal blood in her body. 

It is very common for HLA to form in the blood of women who have been pregnant. 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, but could be harmful if transfused into certain patients.

Platelets are powerful and their main job is to stop bleeding and seal cuts.

Women are a large percentage of platelet donors and many make giving platelets a lifelong habit.

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.

Read the rest of Louise’s story.

Donating Platelets

Men and women can donate platelets every 7 days up to 24 times a year.

People with A+, B+, O+, AB+, and AB- blood types are ideal candidates for platelet donations.

Platelet donations can take up to 90 minutes, so appointments are strongly encouraged. OneBlood donor centers have Wi-Fi capability so donors can catch up on emails, watch their favorite shows or just relax.  

Ready to become a platelet hero? Click to schedule an appointment.

Contact our Donor Advocacy Department if you have questions at 1.888.936.6283 ext. 3858. Monday through Friday between 8:00am and 4:30pm.

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Heather Georgoudiou

Heather Georgoudiou is OneBlood’s Digital Marketing Analyst. 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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