Types of Donations

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:

  1. Blood (or Whole Blood)
  2. Double Red Cells
  3. Platelets
  4. Plasma
  5. Autologous Donation
  6. Directed Donation
1. Blood (or Whole Blood)
  • 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.
2. 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.
  • Donors are eligible to give double red cells every 112 days.
3. Platelets
  • 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.
4. Plasma
  • Plasma is collected simultaneously with a platelet donation and is collected at select American Red Cross Donation Centers only.
  • 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.
5. Autologous Donation
  • 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.
6. Directed Donation
  • 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.