The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Alta encourages platelet giving she says, "The need is great!"

by Shana Jackson and Dessa Rodeffer, The Quill

Alta Hutchinson might have been gone for the winter but that doesn't mean she wasn't busy with the platelet drive.

She makes her phone calls from Florida to set up appointment times for the April platelet drive and then returned to La Harpe on April 1st, and was back in the American Red Cross chair Thursday, the 15th to give platelets.

Alta started the platelet drive in La Harpe 5 years ago. She said she just seen there was a need and it helps so many.

She would like to put out a plea for male donors, especially during planting time, there is such a need for them.

Most people are familiar with the regular trips into town by the Red Cross Bloodmobile for whole blood, but platelet giving is a little different. Only the platelets are taken from the blood. The process takes about 1-1/2 to 2 hours and the blood is drawn out of one arm, a machine takes the platelets out, and then the blood is put back into the donors other arm.

Alta said there are so many cancer patients in need she found as she spent a couple of months with her mother in the cancer unit of University Hospitals in Iowa City. "My mother didn't need them, but I was especially surprised how many did. There were a lot of small kids taking cancer treatments that whipped out their platelets."

Alta explained how blood has a much longer shelf life than platelets which must be used within 5 days. This makes the need greater even though towns such as nearby towns such as Carthage and Nauvoo have platelet drives every month.

At La Harpe, they do a platelet drive every other month on a Thursday. The next one is June 17th, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the La Harpe Clubhouse. The appointments are needed because only 12 can be done at the most in a day.

"We have had a good response, but with the farmers in the field, it has been difficult," Alta said.

"To speed up the process, we suggest that new donors go to a place having a regular Red Cross blood drive and have a platelet count done to see if they would be a good donor."

She explained how those who have trouble giving blood, have had better luck sometimes giving platelets. The platelets replenish themselves in just two days rather than 21.

If you would like to help by giving platelets, call Alta at 217-659-3434 or her cell at 309.337.2220 and make an appointment for June 17th. Then be sure to drink lots of water before you come. It will help the platelets to separate.

"I've always feared needles," Alta said. In fact, she hates them, but says, "the small prick of the needle is outweighed by the necessity of the many patients who are in need.

The community along with the businesses in town have been supportive. This month K&C Enterprises Sales & Service of La Harpe donated delicious chili soup, and Caseys in La Harpe donated a dozen donuts for the April 15th drive.