Whole blood, platelets, red blood cells or plasma — you’ve got options when it comes to saving lives, and each donation has its benefits.
The most typical donation is whole blood, and it’s why we say you can save up to three lives with one visit. Donors give about a pint of blood, and our lab technicians later divide it into red blood cells, plasma and platelets.
The entire donation process, from registration to post-donation refreshments, takes less than an hour, with the actual donation taking five to 10 minutes.
Donating a specific blood component requires an automated process and takes a bit longer. The benefit is you’re able to give more of a component that patients in our area need. During an automated process, as your blood is extracted, it goes through a machine that separates the desired component. The remainder of the blood is returned to you, along with a saline solution that helps keep you hydrated.
*When I first gave, the automated process sounded intimidating, so I started with a whole blood donation. My first donation experience was so great I jumped at the chance to donate platelets. I’ve been a platelet donor every since.
Did you know about 55 percent of your blood is plasma, red blood cells make up 45 percent, and a tiny fraction left over is platelets? One automated platelet donation is equal to the platelets derived from six whole blood donations.
Platelets help control bleeding and are often used to help patients with cancer. They expire within five days, which means we need a constant supply.
PLUS, people who give platelets can donate up to 24 times a year — imagine all the gift cards you could get from the Donor Rewards store!
Double Red Cells
Red blood cells are the most-used blood component for surgery, trauma and treatment of blood disorders. A double red cell donation allows you to give twice the amount of red cells given in a whole blood donation.
There are special requirements for donating double red cells, so be sure to talk to the collections staff to determine whether you are eligible. If your blood type is O, you'll likely be asked to give double red cells because you are a universal donor.
Plasma is the liquid portion of blood that transports red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. 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. It also is transfused to some patients with bleeding or clotting disorders. If your blood type is AB, you may be asked to give plasma as you are a universal plasma donor.
Our needs change regularly, and you may be asked to make a different type of donation. You could also be asked to give a combination of automated donations; for example, a platelet and a plasma. Talk to our collections staff about what is the best option for you. We’re grateful you take the time to give blood.
Thank you for saving lives with us, and don’t forget to schedule your next appointment.