Platelet donors help save the lives of many people

December 30, 2020 - 08:41

Nguyễn Thị N, 39, had to be rushed to hospital when she was 36 weeks pregnant because her platelet level was just 5 grams per litre of blood (G/L) while the normal human platelet count ranges from 150-400 G/L.


38-year-old Nguyễn Thị Thu Hiền from Phú Thọ province is among 80 outstanding Vietnamese platelet donors who was honoured at a meeting organised by the NIHBT on Saturday. She has so far donated her blood and platelet 45 times. Photo

HÀ NỘI —  Nguyễn Thị N, 39, had to be rushed to hospital when she was 36 weeks pregnant because her platelet level was just 5 grams per litre of blood (G/L) while the normal human platelet count ranges from 150-400 G/L.

As she suffers from thrombocytopenic haemorrhage, N has been hospitalised many times due to anaemia and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count).

Thrombocytopenia is very dangerous and can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding and brain haemorrhage. Pregnant women with thrombocytopenia also face risk to the life of the baby.

Nguyễn Thị Thảo from National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion (NIHBT) said it was necessary to perform Caesareans in cases like N’s because giving birth naturally would be extremely dangerous due to low platelet count.

It could be difficult to stop the pregnant woman bleeding, she said, adding that she would need a large number of platelets before, during and after caesarean surgery.

The institute has mobilised dozens of platelet units, helping pregnant women like N survive, who is now healthy, as is her four-month-old baby.

N is one of many patients whose lives have been saved thanks to platelet transfusions.

According to Bạch Quốc Khánh, head of NIHBT, in the past, blood transfusion centres often separated whole blood units in a sterile and closed system to obtain platelets.

However, this method did not satisfy treatment needs, so modern techniques have been applied to extract platelets and then return the rest of the blood to the donors.

As many as 11,337 platelet units were collected by the NIHBT between 2000 and 2010, he said, but over the past 10 years, the quantity of platelets has climbed to 222,187 units.

Khánh said that this was a good sign, demonstrating the rising platelet donation.

“Regular platelet donors contribute to providing the safest blood products because they always know how to self-monitor and ensure safe blood.

"Regular blood and platelet donation also help the institute reduce the burden and save time for mobilising people, testing, and processing blood products,” he said.

According to Khánh, platelets are tiny cells in the blood, born from bone marrow. Their main function is to stick to the lining of blood vessels and stop bleeding.

Platelets are also blood components that play an important role in the treatment of diseases related to hemostasis disorders, cancer, victims of traumatic injuries, and patients undergoing open heart surgery.

Platelets must be transfused within five days of donation - so there is a constant, often critical, need for new and current donors.

The 38-year-old Nguyễn Thị Thu Hiền, a donor from Phú Thọ Province, said she donated blood as it helped save patients in need.

“Many people want to do charity work, but not everyone can do so without sufficient financial conditions. With blood and platelet donation, I find it very easy to realise my dream. As long as I have a kind heart and my health is good enough, I can do it,” she told

Hiền goes to the NIHBT in Hà Nội to donate blood 3-4 times a year. After learning that platelet donation can be repeated after 21 days, she turned to give platelets.

Hiền has so far donated her blood and platelets 45 times.

She is among 80 outstanding Vietnamese platelet donors who were honoured at a meeting held by the NIHBT last Saturday.

Hiền said her health had improved after she engaged in platelet donation.

“In the past, I used to experience dizziness and often felt poorly. Since I donate blood and platelets regularly, those symptoms have completely disappeared. I feel healthier, my skin is also improved,” she said.

Nguyễn Văn Khải, a 28-year-old man from Nam Định Province, said he had donated blood 10 times and given platelets 50 on 50 occasions.

Khải said he understood the value of blood donation as in 2013, his father had an accident and lost a lot of blood. Thanks to blood from volunteers, his father survived.

Moved by the noble gestures of donors, Nguyễn Thị Xuân, who has received treatment for bone marrow failure sine June 2014, could say nothing other than “thank you”.

She couldn’t remember how many times she longed for the nurses' trolleys to enter the hospital room because it meant she was about to be called for a platelet transfusion.

“The feeling at that time was so joyful.

"On the occasion of National Day (September 2), I had to wait for the platelets for what felt as long as a century,” she recalled.

“The hospital said we could encourage family members to donate platelets, but my relatives would have had to travel 200 kilometres so it might be too late.”

However, she said, unknown people brought life to her, as they have many times in recent years. — VNS