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Blood donation is a voluntary procedure that can help save the lives of others. There are several types of blood donation. Each type helps meet different medical needs.

Whole blood donation

This is the most common type of blood donation, during which you donate about a pint (about half a liter) of whole blood. The blood is then separated into its components — red cells, plasma and sometimes platelets.


During apheresis, you are hooked up to a machine that can collect and separate blood components, including red cells, plasma and platelets, and return unused components back to you.

  • Platelet donation (plateletpheresis) collects only platelets — the cells that help stop bleeding by clumping and forming plugs (clotting) in blood vessels.

    Donated platelets are commonly given to people with clotting problems or cancer and people who will have organ transplants or major surgeries.

  • Double red cell donation allows you to donate a concentrated amount of red blood cells. Red blood cells deliver oxygen to your organs and tissues.

    Donated red blood cells are typically given to people with severe blood loss, such as after an injury or accident, and people with sickle cell anemia.

  • Plasma donation (plasmapheresis) collects the liquid portion of the blood (plasma). Plasma helps blood clot and contains antibodies that help fight off infections.

    Plasma is commonly given to people in emergency and trauma situations to help stop bleeding.Why it's done

    You agree to have blood drawn so that it can be given to someone who needs a blood transfusion.

    Millions of people need blood transfusions each year. Some may need blood during surgery. Others depend on it after an accident or because they have a disease that requires blood components. Blood donation makes all of this possible. There is no substitute for human blood — all transfusions use blood from a donor.Risks

    Blood donation is safe. New, sterile disposable equipment is used for each donor, so there's no risk of contracting a bloodborne infection by donating blood.

    If you're a healthy adult, you can usually donate a pint (about half a liter) of blood without endangering your health. Within a few days of a blood donation, your body replaces the lost fluids. And after two weeks, your body replaces the lost red blood cells.

    How you prepareEligibility requirements

    To be eligible to donate whole blood, plasma or platelets, you must be:

    • In good health.
    • At least 16 or 17 years old, depending on the law in your state. Some states allow legal minors to donate with parent permission. While there's no legal upper age limit, policies may vary between individual donor centers.
    • At least 110 pounds (about 50 kilograms).
    • Able to pass the physical and health-history assessments.

    Eligibility requirements differ slightly between different types of blood donation.