Platelet, double red cell and plasma donations

Platelet, double red cell and plasma donations are each a type of apheresis — a method of collecting blood in which you're hooked up to a machine that collects and separates blood components (red cells, platelets and plasma) and returns unused components to you. Your blood stays confined within a single-use sterile tubing kit, so you're not at risk of getting a bloodborne infection during a blood donation.

Apheresis allows you to donate more frequently than does whole blood donation 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 donation (plateletpheresis)

During plateletpheresis, only platelets are collected. Platelets help blood to clot and are commonly given to people with cancer or scheduled for major surgery.

To donate platelets, you 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

You may donate platelets as often as every eight days, and up to 24 times in a 12-month period.

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

Plasma donations (plasmapheresis)

During plasmapheresis, only the liquid portion of the blood (plasma) is collected. Plasma is commonly given to people in emergency and trauma situations to help stop bleeding.

To donate plasma, you 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.

You may donate plasma as often as every 28 days.

Double red cell donation

During double red cell donation, two units of red cells are collected. Red cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Red cells are typically given to people with sickle cell anemia or significant blood loss due to trauma or surgery. A red cell donation is typically transfused within days, so the need for this component is ongoing.

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