Donation of 'whole blood' is the most common type of blood donation, but there are a few other types of blood donation. Donation types include:
In addition, there are two special donation types that have to do with who is making the donation:
The best type of donation for each individual depends on their blood type, physical characteristics, personal preferences and the availability of convenient donation opportunities. Giving the "right type" of donation helps ensure the best use of your valuable contribution.
Blood (or Whole Blood) Donation
- This is the most common type of donation, during which approximately a pint of 'whole blood' is given.
- The blood is separated into transfusable components – red cells, plasma, platelets and/or cryoprecipitated AHF.
- This type of blood donation usually takes about an hour, though the actual donation takes about 8-10 minutes.
- You are eligible to donate 'whole blood' every 56 days.
- Platelet donations are collected at select American Red Cross Blood Donation centers only.
- During this type of donation, an apheresis machine collects the platelets and some plasma and returns the red cells and most of the plasma back to the donor.
- Platelets are a vital element of cancer and organ transplant treatments, as well as many surgical procedures as they help prevent massive blood loss.
- A single donation of platelets collected by apheresis can constitute one or several transfusable units, while it takes about four to six whole blood donations to constitute a single transfusable unit of platelets.
- The donation takes approximately one and-a-half to two and-a-half hours.
- Call 1-800-RED-CROSS to find platelet apheresis donation opportunities near you.
Learn More about Platelet Apheresis Donations »
- During a plasma apheresis donation, the blood is collected by a machine, which separates the plasma, red cells and platelets and returns the red cells and/or platelets back to the donor.
- While donors with Type AB blood can only give red cells to other Type AB recipients, they are the universal plasma donors. The ‘right type’ donation for AB donors may be an apheresis donation of plasma or plasma and platelets.
- The donation takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Call 1-800-RED-CROSS to find plasma apheresis donation opportunities near you.
Learn More about Plasma Donations »
Double Red Cells
- Double red cell donation is done with the help of an apheresis machine which collects the red cells but returns most of the plasma and platelets to the donor.
- Red cells are the most transfused blood component, and certain blood types are often in short supply.
- Double red cell donations from Type O donors and donors with Rh-negative blood types play a very important role in maintaining blood supply levels.
- Donors need to meet slightly higher hemoglobin and body height/weight requirements in order to be able to give a double red cell donation.
- Double red cell donations take approximately 30 minutes longer than a whole blood donation and allow you to give two units of red cells.
- Available in most donation centers and some blood drives.
- These are donations that individuals give for their own use with a doctor's prescription - for example, before a surgery.
- Not subject to the same testing criteria as other donations, and therefore, if they are not used by the patient, they are discarded.
- Must be scheduled in advance by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. Be sure to indicate that you are requesting an autologous appointment when scheduling.
- Donations made for a specific patient by a friend or family member with a doctor's prescription.
- Subject to all testing requirements of other donations, and if for some reason they are not or cannot be utilized by the patient, they may be made available for other patients in need.
- Please call 1-800-RED-CROSS if you would like to schedule a directed donation.
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