Matching Platelet Donors and Recipients
Patients who receive multiple platelet transfusions sometimes produce antibodies that fight the donated platelets and prevent them from performing their clotting function. This makes ‘platelet typing’ crucial: matching not only A, O, B and AB red blood cell types but also the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA), which is more extensive and differentiating. Matching is about finding a donor whose platelets will be accepted readily into the recipient’s body. The odds of finding a match this close are one in four among family members and one in 10,000 among random donors.
If you’re found to be a matching donor, you could be asked to make several donations in a short period of time. Donors typically receive a few days' notice before being asked to undergo plateletpheresis, but in an emergency Canadian Blood Services may ask you to make your special donation on short notice.
That’s what helped save Amanda’s life.
Amanda was no stranger to platelet transfusions. While undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia, her platelet counts were low.
“I desperately needed a platelet transfusion,” she remembers. “But as soon it started, I couldn’t breathe. I remember thinking there was something wrong.”
She was having an allergic reaction to the platelets.
The transfusion was stopped immediately. We tested Amanda’s blood and found an HLA match. After the necessary processing time, the platelet transfusion was administered. Amanda and her nurse waited anxiously to see how it would go... three minutes, five minutes, ten minutes — with no allergic reaction. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. But the true test remained: had the platelets been enough to pull Amanda out of the danger zone?
The answer, to everyone’s relief, was yes. Amanda’s platelet count had risen more than ever before. She was out of the danger zone. Since then, every platelet transfusion she has required is HLA matched and her platelet counts continue to rebound.
“I am so grateful to the donors who take the time to come back over and over because they are a specific match. They are a rare breed and SO committed!” Amanda says. “There is nothing I can do to let them know how much they are appreciated, except to offer a big thank you. Your donation makes all the difference in someone’s world.”
Be the difference