WASHINGTON (AP) _ A federal proposal to limit personal donations of platelets _ the substance that makes blood clot _ is headed back to the drawing board after government advisers said the new curb would drastically cut the nation's supply.
Platelets are chronically scarce, because they last just five days after they're donated. Regular transfusions are crucial for patients who can't make platelets on their own, such as those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.
As part of an overhaul of donation guidelines, the Food and Drug Administration had proposed limiting how many platelets someone could donate each year to about 24 pints.
Currently, the limit is on how often donors can give _ 24 times a year. That could equal 72 pints a year since donors can give up to three pints at a time.
The FDA's proposal caused an uproar among donation centers, who said the donations don't harm healthy donors _ their bodies quickly make more platelets _ so there's no reason to change. Late Thursday, the FDA's scientific advisers agreed, rejecting the proposed limit.
However, the panel did recommend that if people donate two or three pints in a single sitting, they can't donate again for a week. Most platelet donation is done through a process called apheresis, which involves drawing whole blood from a donor's arm and running it through a centrifuge to separate out the platelets. The rest of the blood is returned into the other arm.
The FDA is not bound by its advisers' recommendations, but usually follows them.