The need is currently high because of the recovery efforts in the northeast after Hurricane Sandy.
"Blood platelets actually make your blood clot. That's why it's mainly used in cancer patients because that's what they need. In order to get better," said Nashville Red Cross Operations Support Manager John Yakoumis.
He continued, "That's what goes to a lot of the cancer patients. With it being such a rare thing that people do, it's one of the highest needed items that we have."
According to Yakoumis, donating platelets is different than donating whole blood.
Platelet donations can only be done at one of three Red Cross donation centers in the Mid-South including Nashville, Murfreesboro and Paducah, Kentucky.
"Typically it takes around two and a half to three hours to donate," explained Yakoumis. "They stick the donor in both arms. They take the blood out of one arm and replace the platelets and plasma back in the other arm. Basically what that means to the donor is we put back most of your fluids that you don't normally get back from a whole blood donation."
Blood platelets only have a shelf-life five days.
Yakoumis said it's imperative that there are enough platelets being shipped to the northeast following Hurricane Sandy since many centers there are not able to take donations.
Platelets can be donated every seven days, but the Nashville chapter recommends once every two weeks.
For more information contact the American Red Cross at 615-250-4300 or visit their Web site.