Donation Types

Whole Blood Donations 

For a whole blood donation, about one pint of blood is collected and separated into its three components: plasma, platelets and red blood cells.

The value of a whole blood donation is that you help save three lives! Plasma is effective in treating burn or shock patients. Platelets can help patients with leukemia and other cancers. Red blood cells are often necessary to treat surgery patients, babies born prematurely and trauma victims. 

The entire donation process, from registration to post-donation refreshments, takes just under one hour, with the actual donation taking five to 10 minutes. You may donate whole blood every 56 days. 

Automated Donations

Automated donations allow you to selectively donate the blood components that are needed most, with the remaining blood returned to you. You can donate double red cells, platelets or plasma with an automated donation. Depending on your blood type, the collections staff can tell you what donation type is most needed at the time of your donation.

Double Red Cells

A double red cell donation allows you to give twice the amount of red cells given in a whole blood donation. Red blood cells are the most-used blood component for surgery, trauma and treatment of blood disorders.

You may donate double red cells once every 112 days. There are special requirements for donating double red cells. If you are interested in making this type of donation, please talk to the collections staff to determine whether you are eligible.

Platelets

Platelets are a component of your blood that help control bleeding, and are often used to help patients with cancer. An automated platelet donation is equal to platelets derived from six whole blood donations. Since platelets only have a shelf life of five days, donors are needed continuously.

If you donate platelets, you may donate every seven days, up to 24 times per year. There is a three-day deferral period after taking aspirin to donate platelets.

Plasma

Plasma, the liquid portion of blood, transports red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets (which control bleeding, fight infection and provide nutrients). Burn and trauma patients frequently are given plasma to replace fluid loss. Someone who receives many red cell transfusions may require plasma as well to maintain blood clotting. Plasma is also transfused to some patients with bleeding or clotting disorders.

After donating plasma, you may give plasma again after 28 days, whole blood after one month or platelets after 72 hours.

Source Plasma Donations

In addition to donating red blood cells, platelets or plasma that can be directly transfused to patients, some donors may give plasma that will be used to make lifesaving medicines for patients battling more than 80 different diseases. This new donation type is called source plasma.

Many patients do not require blood transfusions, but need lifesaving therapies – called therapeutic proteins – that can only be made with donated plasma. These patients include people with serious, and often rare, medical conditions, such as immune system deficiency, septic shock or hemophilia.

Just as there is no substitute for blood, no generic or chemical substitute exists for therapeutic proteins. The only way to create this type of medication is through plasma donations. The Blood Center has partnered with a nonprofit organization that creates therapeutic proteins from source plasma given by volunteer donors, to help patients in the U.S. and internationally.

Source plasma donation has slightly different donor eligibility requirements than other donation types. Learn more.

Autologous and Directed Donations

Autologous blood transfusion is a procedure in which you are transfused with blood that you have donated only for yourself.

Directed blood transfusion is a procedure in which the patient is transfused with blood specifically donated for the patient by a friend or family member, with a doctor's orders.

To become an autologous or directed blood donor, a written order must be faxed to The Blood Center's Autologous and Directed Program at (713) 791-6607. Your physician can obtain a Request for Autologous/Directed Donation form by calling (713) 791-6608 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., or download it here. It is the responsibility of the donor to make sure the written order is sent to The Blood Center by the physician.

Autologous and directed donations can be made at any Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center facility. You must call the location to schedule an appointment for your donation. Autologous blood donations are not accepted at mobile blood drives. An additional fee is charged for each pint drawn to cover extra processing and administrative costs. These fees are charged to the hospital and will be included in your hospital bill.

Effective June 16, 2015, autologous donors must have a hematocrit level of at least 38 percent. The deferral period for donors with low hematocrit is 30 days to give donors ample time to increase their hematocrit levels by regularly eating iron-rich foods and incorporating an iron supplement into their routines. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I be charged for direct donations if the donors are not compatible?

No, if your donors are not compatible there is no charge. But if we are not provided with the patient's blood type, then we send every donation to the hospital. After the hospital cross-match is done and it is concluded that the donation is incompatible, then there is only the direct fee of $26.

Why does my blood expire sooner if I am a blood relative?

If you are a blood relative, your donation will have to be irradiated to avoid graft versus host disease. In this instance, the 42-day expiration is reduced to 28 days.

Why do I have to pay for my own blood?

The charges assessed with an autologous donation are for testing and processing, and service fees.

Do you ship blood internationally?

No, clearing the blood units through customs is very difficult. We cannot regulate the blood temperature once it leaves the center.

Why do I need doctor's orders before donating autologous or direct units?

We must have a doctor's request in order to make sure we have all the proper information for the patient and to make sure the doctor has authorized the patient to give an autologous donation.

If I'm having surgery out of town, can I donate here and have it shipped? And at what cost?

Yes, you may donate with a physician's request at any Neighborhood Donor Center. But all units must be prepaid before any donations are made. This fee varies depending on how many units your physician wants. It includes testing and processing fees, autologous and/or directed fees, and shipping and handling.

Why can't I know the names of or other information about my direct donors?

All information is kept strictly confidential in accordance with HIPAA regulations.

If I don't use my autologous donation, why can't it be released for someone else?

Autologous donations are not drawn under the same criteria as a regular whole blood unit. Some physicians will allow autologous donors to donate who otherwise would not qualify to donate for the general public. Therefore, these units cannot be released for someone else.

Therapeutic Phlebotomy

If you have a condition such as polycythemia or porphyria cutanea tarda and are required to have blood drawn as a form of treatment, you may come to any Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center facility for the procedure.

With the exception of approved hemochromatosis and testosterone replacement therapy donors, therapeutic patients will only be drawn on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The therapeutic request form must be completed by your doctor and faxed to (713) 790-1782 at least 72 hours prior to the first collection to allow time for review, Medical Director approval and data entry. Incomplete or illegible orders will not be accepted. Download the Therapeutic Phlebotomy Request.

Beginning July 6, 2016, a fee of $150 will be required per therapeutic phlebotomy. This fee will not apply to those with a diagnosis of hereditary hemochromatosis or secondary polycythemia due to testosterone replacement therapy, since in some cases these units may be used for transfusion to patients. The fee also will not apply to patients with Medicare or Medicaid coverage.

Payment will be accepted onsite using a major credit card at the Neighborhood Donor Center after screening, prior to phlebotomy. A receipt and form that may be used for insurance reimbursement will be provided. The fee does not apply to patients with Medicare or Medicare coverage.

 

Hemochromatosis and Testosterone Replacement Therapy Donors

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center has been granted variances from the Food and Drug Administration that allow The Blood Center to draw blood to be used for transfusion purposes from individuals diagnosed with hereditary hemochromatosis, and men taking hormone replacement therapy (testosterone). Previously, blood collected from these patients was drawn only as therapeutic phlebotomy and was destroyed.

Now, blood collected from individuals who have hereditary hemochromatosis or who are taking testosterone replacement therapy, who meet all suitability requirements for allogeneic blood donations, will be labeled as suitable for transfusion. The minimum hematocrit allowed for transfusion purposes is 38 percent for females, and 39 percent for males. Blood donations from donors who do not meet the current suitability requirements will be labeled as therapeutic phlebotomies and discarded. Hereditary hemochromatosis donors and donors taking testosterone will be allowed to donate blood more often than every eight weeks, and their blood will be used for transfusion if suitable. All donations from these individuals qualify to earn Commit for Life points.

There is no fee for phlebotomies performed on these individuals whether or not they meet requirements to be allogeneic donors. We will continue to require a therapeutic phlebotomy request form to be completed by your doctor and kept on file with The Blood Center. Download the Therapeutic Phlebotomy Request, ask your doctor to complete the form and fax to The Blood Center at (713) 790-1782.

Blood Center News
The Blood Center helping nationwide during times of crisis

Thanks to dedicated donors who have ensured an adequate supply is available local patients, The Blood Center has been able to assist blood centers nationwide during times of crisis in 2016. Most recently, The Blood Center sent blood to Florida after the state was unable to collect during Hurricane Matthew.

New source plasma donation sites added to Blood Center roster

Source plasma is the latest blood component that The Blood Center has begun to collect in an effort to help save more lives. Source plasma is a component that is used to make therapeutic proteins, which are lifesaving medicines for patients battling more than 80 different diseases.

New weight requirements for donors between the ages of 16 to 18

As of Aug. 16, donors between the ages of 16 to 18 must be at least 122 pounds to donate. This is latest step The Blood Center is taking to help reduce the risk of donor reactions and injuries, which are more common among smaller, younger donors.

The Blood Center sends units to Dallas following shootings

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center sends blood to Dallas to help those in need following Thursday's shootings.

MILA Foundation partners with The Blood Center

The Blood Center has various partners throughout the community who help us save lives and continuously accomplish our mission. Recently, we hosted a blood drive with a new partner whose mission is as honorable as any and whose story is profound.

The Blood Center partners with the Houston Zoo

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center recently embarked on a unique partnership with the Houston Zoo that is dedicated to helping treat a deadly virus in elephants.

Regulatory Changes Affect Donor Eligibility

The FDA has revised its donor acceptability guidelines, and Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center will implement these changes beginning May 23, 2016.

2016 Commit for Life Scholarship Winners

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is excited to announce the 2016 Commit for Life Scholarship recipients.

Blood Center to Begin Testing for Zika Virus May 23

The test is part of an Investigational New Drug Application protocol approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The cobas® Zika test is manufactured by Roche Molecular Systems.

The Blood Center holds annual brunch for volunteers

Every year, The Blood Center takes time during National Volunteer Appreciation Week to thank the volunteers who used their time to help us save lives.

Meet our Volunteers: Marsha Asplin and Jim Daurity

This month we would like to highlight the dynamic duo of Marsha Asplin and Jim Daurity. Marsha and Jim volunteered the most hours in 2015.

Annual 'Roll the Dice' event raises funds for Marrow Donor Program

The Gulf Coast Marrow Donor Program successfully raised $140,000 at their 18th annual Roll the Dice for Life event. The money will go toward continued efforts of helping patients fighting blood cancers.

The Blood Center safeguarding against Zika Virus

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is taking measures to help safeguard the blood supply as the Zika Virus spreads.

Meet Our Volunteers: Humble/Kingwood Community Advocates

Volunteering as a Community Advocate at one of our 13 Neighborhood Donor Centers is one way individuals may partner with The Blood Center to save lives.

The Blood Center celebrates 27th 100-gallon donor

The Blood Center congratulates James Tullis for giving his 100th gallon of blood in November.

New Commit for Life Program

Beginning Oct. 6, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is excited to introduce an updated Commit for Life program that will reflect the changing daily needs of patients and ensure donors are recognized for giving the most essential blood components.

August 2015 Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the August edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

July 2015 Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the July edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

June 2015 Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the June edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

Hematocrit Deferral Period Extended

Having a low hematocrit level is one of the most common reasons individuals are deferred from donating blood.

May 2015 Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the May edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

2015 Commit for Life Scholarship Winners

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center has selected the winners of its Commit for Life Creative Scholarship. 

Celebrating our Volunteers

On Saturday, April 18, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Brunch recognized our hardworking and dedicated Commit for Life volunteers.

April 2015 Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the April edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

March 2015 Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the March edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

2015 Luncheon and Awards Ceremony

Gold-level blood drive groups – those that host at least four drives per year – were honored at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s annual “A Celebration of Life” Luncheon and Awards Ceremony on Feb. 12, 2015 at the Royal Sonesta Houston Galleria. 

February 2015 Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the February edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

Roll the Dice for Life

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s Marrow Donor Program hosted its 17th annual Roll the Dice for Life fundraiser Friday, Feb. 6, at The Bell Tower on 34th.

January 2015 Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the January edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

Patrick McDonald is 26th 100-Gallon Donor

On Wednesday, Jan. 14, Patrick McDonald of Deer Park became the 26th blood donor in the Texas Gulf Coast region to give 800 donations, the equivalent of 100 gallons.

December Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the December edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

November Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the November edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

Workshop Prepares Students to Host Blood Drives

Last week, 180 local high school students took over the halls and conference rooms of Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s headquarters for the 2014 High School Workshop.

October Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the October edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

Circle of Life Bike Tour Rides into Houston

The Lone Star Circle of Life Bike Tour rode into Houston on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, to raise awareness of the need for more lifesaving blood, bone marrow, organ and tissue donors in Texas. 

September Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the September edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

August Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the August edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

Congratulations to Our Gas Card Giveaway Winners!

Thank you to everyone who participated in July’s gas card giveaway and congratulations to our winners. Here are last month’s winners and where they donated.

July Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the July edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

Congratulations to our Family Vacation Month Winners!

Thank you to everyone who participated in June’s Family Vacation Month giveaway and congratulations to our winners.

June Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the June edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

New License Expands Impact on Rare Donor Patients

Thanks to a recently approved FDA license, patients across the country in need of rare units of red blood cells may breathe a little sigh of relief. 

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center Gives Back

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center serves more than 170 hospitals and health care institutions in the 26-county Texas Gulf Coast, Brazos Valley and East Texas regions. 

May Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the May edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

Commit for Life Creative Scholarship Winners

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center has selected the winners of its Commit for Life Creative Scholarship. 

April Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the April edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

New Rare Donor Program: One 2 One

You may have recently received a letter in the mail from us thanking you for your donation along with a new green and white donor ID card with the words “One 2 One” on it.

March Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the March edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

February Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the February edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

Gold-level Groups Honored at Annual 'Celebration'

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center hosted its annual “A Celebration for Life” luncheon and awards ceremony at Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel on Feb. 28.

Six Days a Week to Help Save Lives!

Starting Feb. 17, most Houston-area Neighborhood Donor Centers will be open six days a week!

Creative Scholarship Deadline is March 1

The deadline for The Blood Center’s Commit for Life Creative Scholarship is rapidly approaching, and eligible high school seniors are encouraged to apply by March 1!

January Commit for Life Newsletter

Welcome to the January edition of the Commit for Life Newsletter, your source for the latest Commit for Life news and updates!

Additional Donor Centers Now Open Mondays

Beginning Monday, Jan. 6, donors in the Clear LakeThe Woodlands and Westchase areas will have extra opportunities to help save lives! These Neighborhood Donor Centers will now be open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Meet the Executives

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s executive team spearheads the organization’s mission of partnering with the community to help save and sustain lives by providing a safe supply of blood, blood components and related service. Meet the dynamic men and women who drive The Blood Center’s continued success.

National Volunteer Week 2016

April 10 through 16 is National Volunteer Week. It is a time when organizations around the country highlight and show appreciation for the people who unselfishly donate their time to various causes for the benefit of others. 

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Blood Center Resources

Our mission is to partner with the community to save and sustain lives by providing a safe supply of blood, blood components and related services.

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center
1400 La Concha Lane
Houston, TX 77054

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