Friday, May 18, 2007

Blood and Platelet Drive

Dear Friends of Toby,

I know that many of us have hoped to be able to DO something that we know will be concretely helpful to Toby and his family right now. Perhaps one of the most important things that we can do is donate blood and platelets. Toby's treatment will include an ongoing need for both blood and platelet transfusions. Memorial Sloan-Kettering, where Toby is being treated, will accept donations of both blood and platelets designated specifically for Toby. Any donation that Toby does not use will be released for use by other patients, many of whom are children. Platelets are especially important - please consider donating platelets if possible. (The process takes longer and is slightly more involved than donating blood, and the shelf life of platelets is much shorter.)


Donated blood will be held in Toby's name for up to 30 days, then given to other patients before it expires. Any donation that does not match Toby's will be exchanged with one from the general pool and the name of the donor will be listed in his blood bank. Platelets are especially important for chemotherapy patients. Donated platelets are held for 5 days - first 3 days for testing, then 2 days in storage. Toby's doctors have said that he is likely to need 2-3 units of blood and 2 units of platelets every week for the next six months. The Blood Donor Room keeps track of what the supply and the needs are so that donors are scheduled to best meet Toby's needs.

All blood types are acceptable for all donations.

Donating blood takes about an hour, including filling out paperwork. Donating platelets takes about 2.5 hours, including paperwork. Products containing aspirin, ibuprofen or similar items cannot be taken before platelet donation. The process of donating platelets is similar to blood, except that you are hooked up to a needle for a longer time (60-90 minutes). Your blood goes into a machine which spins out the platelets and recirculates the blood back into your body.


If you plan to donate, please pre-screen yourself by reviewing the eligibility requirements on the website,; click on "general guidelines" to begin the review, then scroll to the bottom of the web page & click on "additional donor requirements" & review any section that is pertinent.

All donations must be made in the Blood Donor Room of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. To schedule an appointment or get more information, call Mary Thomas, coordinator of the Blood Donor Program at 212-639-3335 or email at You can also call the Blood Donor Room at 212-639-7648. When you make your appointment, let them know that you are donating for Toby Pannone.

The Donor Room is located at 1250 First Ave (between 67/68 streets) in the Schwartz Building Lobby. The hours are Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon 8:30-3; Tues, Wed, Th 8:30-7.

There is free parking available for donors at the garage at 433 E. 66th St, at the corner of York Ave. You can get a voucher from the Blood Donor room.

If you want to donate, and are having trouble navigating the MSKCC system yourself, please email Jessica at I will be happy to do what I can to make it possible for you to donate.

As Mooki and Stephen know about specific needs for either blood or platelets, we will get that information up on the blog. Mary Thomas will also know what Toby's particular needs are.

Thank you in advance for this extremely important support to Toby and his family.


Becca and Amalia said...

Just wanted to say that if you ever tend towards the anemic, best to take iron 1-2 weeks in advance of your donation - it's a big disappointment to get all the way to the donor bank, and be turned away. Also, in my experience, when you leave Mary Thomas a message, be sure to say that you want to make a directed donation for Toby - she'll call you back faster.

Finally, they always need blood, but they especially need platelets, since fewer donors have the time or inclination. They won't suggest platelets, since they don't want to appear to pressure you one way or the other. The platelet donation process is really a breeze, and you can bring your laptop, iPod, etc, and they have TVs to watch if you get bored. I recommend bringing a pair of fuzzy socks, since sometimes you get cold (they supply blankets), and take a tums or other calcium supplement the night before, and the morning of - it counteracts a tingling feeling that some people get while they donate.

friend of Toby said...

thanks rebecca, your comment is very helpful. i also want to let everyone know that mary thomas, the coordinator of the donor bank, will be on vacation for a week starting on may 23. potential donors may call mary before she leaves or call the donor room directly at telephone number 212-639-7648 and tell them it’s for Toby Pannone.
thank you for this incredibly important support of toby.

FriendofToby said...

I just talked to Mary at MSK, and got some answers to questions that I thought a lot of people would have, and I wanted to get that info up on the blog. I'm donating platelets next week - the signing up, at least, was very easy.