Platelet, double red cell or plasma donations

Blood contains several components, including red blood cells, platelets, white blood cells and plasma. During platelet or plasma donation (apheresis, or automated donation), your blood is collected and then separated into its components by a machine. The machine keeps the platelets or plasma and returns the rest to you. Your blood stays confined within a single-use sterile tubing kit and sterile equipment. This procedure allows you to donate more frequently because the body replaces platelets and plasma more quickly than red cells.

Platelet or plasma donations take approximately 1 1/2 to two hours.

Platelet donations (plateletpheresis)

In this type of automated donation, platelets are collected and the remaining blood components are returned to the donor. Platelets help blood to clot, and the platelets collected during plateletpheresis commonly are given to people with leukemia, people receiving chemotherapy and babies with severe infections.

Platelet donors must meet all of the requirements for whole blood donation, and also:

  • Have donated whole blood at Mayo Clinic or double red cells, plasma or platelets elsewhere
  • Have not taken aspirin or any aspirin-containing medicine for 48 hours

Platelets from a whole blood donation or automated donation are good for only five days. Red blood cells from a whole blood donation are good for 42 days.

Plasma donations (plasmapheresis)

In this type of automated donation, the liquid portion of the blood (plasma) is collected and the remaining blood components are returned to the donor. Plasma helps blood to clot, and the plasma collected is commonly given to people with liver conditions, burns or severe bacterial infections in their blood.

To donate plasma, donors must meet all of the requirements for whole blood donation. There are four major blood groups: A, B, AB and O. Donors who are blood group AB are special plasma donors because their plasma can be given to any of the other blood types. Because of this, AB plasma is frequently in high demand.

Donors can donate plasma every 28 days.

Double red cell donations

In a double red cell donation, two units of red blood cells are collected and the remaining blood components are returned to the donor. Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body. They are most needed after a significant blood loss through trauma, surgery or anemia. A red cell donation is typically transfused within days, so the need for this component is ongoing.

Donors can donate double red blood cells about once every 168 days (24 weeks). During this time, you cannot make other types of blood donations. Your body replaces the donated red blood cells in about 90 days.