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Saranac couple donates blood platelets, urge others to do the same

PLATTSBURGH - When it comes to Valentine's Day, one couple has found another way to give from the heart.

Saranac residents Amanda Lavarnway and her fianc , Jared Miller, stopped by the North Country Regional Blood Donor Center prior to Valentine's Day Weekend to give a donation of blood platelets together for the first time.

Lavarnway, a veteran whole blood and blood platelet donor, said she convinced her fianc to give after accompanying her several times to her donation appointments.

"He usually goes down with me and instead of sitting there for an hour with nothing to do, he decided to donate with me," said Lavarnway, noting an hour is the average time it takes to make an apheresis donation.

Miller, who has also been a blood donor for several years, said he thought he'd try donating platelets, which is a slightly different process.

"Amanda talked me into it," Miller admitted. "I was a little nervous at first but it wasn't bad."

According to information provided by CVPH Medical Center, which oversees the blood donor center, in an apheresis donation, donors give only select blood components - platelets, plasma, red cells, infection-fighting white cells called "granulocytes," or a combination of the components, depending on the donor's blood type and the needs of the community.

A single apheresis donation of platelets can provide as many platelets as five whole blood donations. In addition, a platelet transfusion from a single donor greatly reduces the chances of an immune system reaction to the transfusion. Bone marrow transplant, cancer and leukemia patients whose immune systems are already compromised, benefit particularly from single donor platelet transfusions.

Not everyone who qualifies to make a whole blood donation is able to make an apheresis donation, said Lavarnway, though she said it's worth looking into to help as many people as possible. While whole blood donations can be made once every eight weeks, platelets may be donated once within a seven-day period up to six times in an eight-week period, for a maximum of 24 times a year.

"I go at least once a month [to donate platelets]," said Lavarnway.

Whether it be by making whole blood donations or apheresis donations, Miller said donating is worth doing.

"It gives you a good feeling afterward knowing you're helping people," he said. "It especially doesn't really take you long to donate blood, only a few minutes. And, it only takes a few minutes to save a life."

Those interested in learning more about donating blood or platelets may contact the North Country Regional Blood Donor Center at 562-7406, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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