How are platelets obtained for transfusion?

Platelets are prepared by using a centrifuge to separate the platelet-rich plasma from the donated unit of whole blood. Platelets may also be obtained from a donor by a process known as apheresis, or plateletpheresis. In this process, blood is drawn from the donor into an apheresis instrument which separates the blood into its components, retains some of the platelets, and returns the remainder of the blood to the donor. This single donor platelet product contains about six times as many platelets as a unit of platelets obtained from whole blood.  Platelets can only be stored for 5 days after being collected. Maintaining an adequate supply of this lifesaving, perishable product is an ongoing challenge.

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