While in her 20s, Deri Beard began giving blood – a commitment that became even more consistent after she had children.

More recently, she lost her mother and a sister to cancer, and a second sister is recovering from breast cancer. That encouraged Beard to start donating platelets.

She is a member of the Mid-Day Lions Club in Aiken, which supports the nonprofit Shepeard Community Blood Center in Aiken through donations and volunteer work, said club president Sherri Jenik.

“Deri goes religiously with the platelets,” she said. “She has done that for some time and coordinates our program for the club.”

Shepeard’s other sites are in Augusta and Evans, Ga. The organization’s website describes the importance of platelets. The agency serves 21 hospitals with patients with cancer who are receiving chemotherapy. The treatment can damage their platelets and sometimes, patients with transplants and burn injuries can also experience platelet damage.

Alicia Reed, Shepeard’s special projects coordinator, spoke at the Mid-Day Club last Thursday. She took the position about a year ago, and by coming to work every day, Reed has gotten a different perspective on helping people.

“It shows that others care about them and what it does for their lives,” she said. “One of the big things is that many people who were once donors of platelets are now getting older and have had to start using the product. Platelets have only a five-day shelf life, and we have to have constant donors.”

The process is similar to giving blood traditionally, Beard said. She is asked the same questions related to health. A needle is inserted into her vein and a unit of blood is drawn out. In this procedure, when the platelets are separated, the blood is returned to her.

“Platelets can be done more frequently,” Beard said. “It could be every two weeks, although they usually book you every two to four weeks. Generally, they book me once a month and if they have needs, they will call me.”

The process takes Beard about an hour, although others may take somewhat longer. She finds the experience emotional and gratifying to have such an opportunity to give something of her self to others.

“A lot of people don’t think they have the time, but it depends on how important they think their time is,” Beard said. “It doesn’t involve giving money, and it’s nice to not be doing 36 other things. You have a chance to decompress, and I look at it that I’m lucky to be able to do this.”

To learn more about platelet donations, call Reed at the Evans Center at 706-854-1582.