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Cancer Survivor Pushing for Platelet Donations

It was the day after Christmas, 2013. Angie Murar was 34 years old, married, and undergoing a biopsy to see if the lump on her breast was what she feared. For more than two years, Angie would fight the cancer with everything she had, undergoing two separate mastectomies, radiation, and chemotherapy in the process.

Angie is now cancer-free, and runs a Facebook group called “West MI Warriors (Cancer Support Group).” It gives people across West Michigan a chance to commiserate with others about their own diagnoses, while offering support and hope.

That support and hope is now translating into another mission for Angie: getting more people to donate blood. Specifically, she wants them to donate a specific part of blood: platelets.

Platelets are one of the most-needed therapies for cancer patients. They form clots to stop bleeding, but are reduced during chemotherapy. What’s more, platelets can only last for five days outside of the body, and two of those days are spent in testing and transportation. That’s part of why there’s always a shortage of platelets. The other reason: time. Donating platelets can take 60 to 90 minutes, which can be a barrier for getting new donors.

For Angie, it’s no excuse.

“It might be a small thing to overcome for blood donors, but it could be a lifesaving thing for someone else,” she said, “An hour and a half of your life could be 30 years of someone else’s.”

Donating platelets may take more time, but it can also be done more often. Donors are able to give every two weeks, up to 24 times a year.

In 2018, Michigan Blood is working to get more platelet donors in the door. New platelet donors will get a free YETI tumbler as thanks for their help in saving lives. If they donate platelets twice between January 1st and June 30th, they’ll be entered in a drawing to win a YETI cooler. ALL platelet donors who donate twice will be entered to win a separate YETI cooler, and get another entry for every subsequent platelet donation.

To make an appointment to donate platelets, donors can call Michigan Blood at 1-866-MIBLOOD (642-5663) or by texting MIBLOOD to 444999. Donors must have donated whole blood at least once with Michigan Blood to qualify for a platelet donation.

As for Angie, she plans to put together a blood drive to get more people donating. Eventually, she hopes to get a group to head over to the Michigan Blood donation center and donate platelets all together.

“It’s another way to show people you care, even if they don’t know you,” said Angie.