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For a whole blood donation, 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.
Our youngest donors, between 16 and 18 years old, follow the guidelines below:
Female Donors: 112 days between donations
Male Donors: 84 or 164 days between donations, depending on the donation given.
For more information, visit our page with iron information.
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 than 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 are a component of your blood that help control bleeding, and they 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 give every seven days, up to 24 times per year. There is a three-day deferral period after taking aspirin to donate platelets.
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.
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 donated explicitly for the patient by a friend or family member, with a doctor's orders.
To become an autologous or directed blood donor, fax a written order to Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center's Autologous and Directed Program at (713) 790-1782. 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 donor's responsibility to make sure the written order is sent to Gulf Coast Regional 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.
Autologous donors must have a hematocrit level of at least 38 percent. The deferral period for donors with low hematocrit is currently shortened to one day to give donors time to increase their hematocrit levels by regularly eating iron-rich foods and incorporating an iron supplement into their routines.