AUGUSTA, Ga. — The supply of a vital blood product that’s used by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy has dwindled severely, according to officials at an Augusta-based blood center.

Disruptions from Tropical Storm Hermine and the Labor Day holiday weekend contributed to the shortage of platelets, Shepeard Community Blood Center employees said.

“We didn’t have platelet products and we were just really struggling,” said Pamela Rascon, the blood center’s director of community resources. “It was very, very serious. Zero platelets on the shelf.”

There was a high demand for the blood products in early September, and some people didn’t show up for appointments to donate, Rascon told The Augusta Chronicle (

“We tried every blood center in our region, in our area, our sister blood centers,” she said. “Nobody would let go of anything because they were in the same situation.”

Finally, another center agreed to ship some platelets that arrived Sunday, and donors showed up Sunday afternoon to help out, but the situation was still severe, Rascon said.

A big demand on the platelet supply is from cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, said Melinda Woodell, director of the apheresis program at the blood center. That’s because chemotherapy weakens the body’s ability to produce its own platelets, she said.

Platelet donors are difficult to recruit, Woodell said. It’s typically a two-hour process and requires good blood levels and vein access, she said.

Shepeard has three locations for people to donate platelets. Two are in Georgia, in Augusta and Evans. The third is in Aiken, South Carolina.

Information from: The Augusta Chronicle ,