Locals honored for reaching 200 platelet donations

PHOTO PROVIDEDPaul Forshay shows off his 200th lifetime donation of platelets to the Adirondack Regional Blood Center. Forshay, along with fellow donor John Triller, are the first donors to have their names engraved in a plaque honoring donors who have reach 200 lifetime platelet donations.

PLATTSBURGH — You could say that Paul Forshay has a lot on his plate.

The 39-year-old Plattsburgh resident was recently honored by the Adirondack Regional Blood Center for reaching a lifetime 200 platelet donations.

Forshay is only the second person to have reached the 200 donation milestone, after fellow donor John Triller.

A LITTLE BIT OF TIME

But Forshay hopes more names can be added to that list soon.

“I definitely think it would help out if more people were aware and just put a little bit of time aside,” he said.

For Forshay, that little bit of time is usually about an hour or two a month to go in and donate.

SHORT SHELF LIFE

But giving those few hours of his time is very important for the Blood Center’s platelet supply, Blood Center Manager Christi Beck explained.

“Platelets present a unique challenge to manage because they have an extremely short shelf life,” Beck said.

Unlike red blood cells, which can be stored safely for 21 to 42 days as needed, platelets can only be stored for five days to a week at the most.

So to keep up its supply, the Blood Center needs to collect at least 2 to 3 units of platelets from donors a day.

“Because they can be an important response in emergency situations, we must always have a minimum number of units on the shelf at all times,” Beck said.

Along with being used for bleeding events such as traumas or maternal bleeding during childbirth, platelets are often used to help cancer patients during their treatments.

KEEPING A STEADY SUPPLY

But beyond platelets, shortages in general are always a concern for the Blood Center and can become a matter of life and death, Beck said.

"We have to have a minimum level of products on the shelf to be able handle traumas and bleeding emergencies," she said.

"If levels drop below safe levels, medical procedures and surgeries may have to be canceled."

And if there's not enough blood available locally, blood will have to be ordered from Albany, "which can cause potential delays in lifesaving care," she said.

“We are only successful because of the wonderful community of donors we have in this region."

DONOR PERKS

For that valuable community, the center traditionally hosts a Blood Sponsors and Donors banquet luncheon, though that event had to be canceled this year due to COVID concerns.

Donors also get a special commemorative t-shirt and, upon reaching landmark amounts of donations, receive an embroidered jacket and their name on the plaques for reaching 100 and 200 lifetime donations.

"However, the biggest perk is knowing that they have made a difference in someone’s life," Beck said.

Forshay agreed, explaining how he enjoyed being able to give to the community.

“For me, it’s just being able to do it and not really require anything back, just to know that I’m helping somebody,” he said.

TO DONATE

For regular donations, donors can stop by any of the Adirondack Regional Blood Center's blood drives held around the North Country.

For platelet donations, the center does one initial blood donation.

"During that donation, we do an evaluation of how you respond to the blood donation and ensure that your veins are accessible and are suited to the use of the apheresis machines we use for platelet donations at our donor center," Beck explained.

"In addition, we run a platelet count. This is to confirm that the donors’ platelet count is high enough for the donor to safely donate and that the number of platelets we can collect will provide a unit that meets a therapeutic range."

For more information, visit UVMHealth.org/GiveBlood or call (518) 562-7406.

Email Ben Rowe:

browe@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @BenRowePhoto

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