Can women donate platelets by Apheresis method?

Blood donation , be it whole blood donation or platelet donation( plateletpheresis) does not have any gender bias, scientifically. All men and women can donate whole blood if they meet the minimum requirements of weight(45KG) and can donate platelets if they meet the minimum requirement of 55kg body weight. While whole blood donors and platelet donors-male or female need to have a Hemoglobin of 12.5 g/dl, platelet donors need to have atleast 1.5 lakh platelets/uL. There is hardly any physiological variation in the platelet count between males and females and both are equally eligible to donate blood. However most blood banks in the city have a preference for male donors. The reasons for this could be : Scientifically, it is advisable that apheresis donors should have donated whole blood atleast once before platelet donation. More women in India, than men have never donated blood and hence are excluded by this criteria.

More importantly most equipment operators and Blood bank officers are men with a soft corner( not a bias ) for the fairer sex and would like to ensure that no harm comes to women. It is our cultural belief that men are stronger than women and they only can withstand this procedure(apheresis) and not women. Scientifically this has not been validated. Most importantly all blood banks are careful to ensure that platelet( pheresis) donors appear very fit ( in their individual perception) in addition to meeting scientific criteria as they are worried about wasting the expensive kit ( Rs 6000-7000) .

Thus in our male dominated society, bias towards men who are perceived as strong, unfounded fear of a reaction in case of a female platelet pheresisdonor , coupled with the associated financial loss ( Rs 6000-7000) to the blood bank, if the procedure has to be discontinued, is probably the most important reason why blood banks choose to ignore/reject female apheresis donors.

We need to encourage and do more plateletpheresis procedures on female donors to prove or disprove our understanding of female apheresis donors.

-Dr. C. Shivaram

Very recently we came across this image of a lady blood donor from Mumbai. On a little investigation, we got to know that lady donors donation platelets by the apheresis method is not just a usual but even regular in Mumbai. Since none of the scientific literature suggests that women are unfit to donate platelets by apheresis method, makes us wonder why we in Bangalore are not open to evaluating the fitness of a lady donor before deciding upon their fitness to donate platelets. It is time that we take a more pragmatic and scientific view and welcome the women to contribute.

Let us hail the concept of voluntary platelet apheresis for one and all.

Sankalp Unit