Platelet processing machine in short supply in Chennai

Chennai: Abiding by the norms of World Health Organization (WHO), government hospitals in Chennai state that the donated blood is separated into three different components – red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs) and platelets. However, there has been a dearth of agitators that store platelets and aphereis machines, in major hospitals in the city.

As per government rules, sources stated that the machine is allocated to one hospital per district and in Chennai, the platelet agitator is at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH). It is learnt that the Institute of Child Health (ICH) and KMCH have appealed to acquire the machine for the welfare of patients.

“Although we have two units of apheresis that process platelets, we do not have an agitator at Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital (KMCH). When the need arises, we direct the donor to RGGGH to undergo the process; the hospital has provided with a vehicle to prevent delay. As projects supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is under way in the institution, we have listed this among our needs,” said the source.

Explaining the system, a doctor said, “The life of platelets last up to a maximum of four days and it can be stored for two days. If given an agitator, it would benefit the patients as we do not have to rush all the way to another institution during an emergency.”

Doctors state that the unit is restricted due to the cost of the machine. “A single agitator machine costs Rs 35 lakh,” said a doctor.

“When a donor donates blood, we get only 50 ml platelets. However, in the case of single donor platelet, the blood is processed around four times in apheresis, we can get around 300 ml of the component, which is six times higher than the random donor,” added the doctor.

It may be noted that the city does not have dedicated donors for platelets and hospitals rely on individuals, organisations and NGOs when a patient is in dire need. The doctor stated that it is a time-consuming process. The patient is screened and the blood processing time is 45 minutes and it may take up to three hours to inject platelet to the patient.

Another source said that ICH does not have apheresis machine and sends the donor to RGGGH, in case of need.

On how an apheresis works, another doctor said, “Fixed unit of blood is drawn from the donor and is processed in a disposable kit which is attached in the processing machine. The liquid is centrifuged and platelets get settled on the topmost layer which is collected in the kit and the rest of the blood components is circulated back to the patient’s body.”

When News Today contacted Tamilnadu Health Secretary, Beela Rajesh, she stated that the needs of the hospitals would be taken up for discussion during the State Assembly session.

The platelet count of the component tends to drop steeply in dengue patients and pregnant cases and platelet injection is imperative to revive the patient.


It is a general norm that blood can be donated on a regular basis of once in three months. However, when the donor donates only platelets, s/he can donate twice a week.


Bhavani Prabhakar