We all have platelets in our blood, they are tiny fragments made in the bone marrow and released into the blood stream in a similar way to red blood cells.
Platelets are essential to stop bleeding and bruising. If a blood vessel is damaged, platelets will become 'glued' together at the site of the damage to form a platelet plug and stop the bleeding.
Platelets are crucial to neonatal care as premature babies frequently have a tendency to bleed and may well have a very low blood platelet count. The tiniest infants frequently have low platelet numbers, as their bone marrow does not work effectively to keep the numbers up. In addition, other factors like infection can lead to a further lowering of platelet numbers and a tendency for the infant to bleed.
The biggest challenge is that, unlike blood, there is no way to preserve platelets, they can’t be frozen or stored, and they have a typical shelf-life of only 5 days! The NHS works hard to keep a steady supply of platelets, but the system is under constant pressure.
However there is a silver lining - a single donor can give enough platelets to provide up to 12 small doses of platelets for babies or young children.
That's 12 Ickle Pickles that you could help save today!
Want to know more?
Look online or call the National Blood Service on 0300 123 23 23