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Did You Know? There’s Not Just One Type of Blood Donation

Blood Donor

Did you know when you choose to roll up a sleeve at American Red Cross blood drives or donation centers, there are different types of donations you can give? 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—and what better time to find the type of donation that suits you than during the summer months when it’s difficult to collect enough blood to meet patient needs.

Donation of 'whole blood' is the most common type of blood donation, but there are a few other ways to make a difference by giving blood. Donation types include:

  • Blood (or Whole Blood)
  • Double Red Cells
  • Platelets
  • Plasma

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Plasma may be collected simultaneously with a platelet donation and is collected at select American Red Cross Donation Centers only.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • All eligible donors are encouraged to make and keep donation appointments to help maintain the summer blood supply and prevent a shortage. Donors of all blood types are currently needed, especially those with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood.

    For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate blood, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit

    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.