Types of Donations

The need for blood is constant.  Most often donated blood is needed by a child or cancer patient, but other uses include: premature infants and their mothers, auto accident, trauma and burn victims, surgery patients, those with anemia or a compromised immune system – to name only a few.   Blood donations save lives and there is no artificial substitute – donors save lives.  It’s that simple. 

Here are some of the ways LifeShare allows you to save local lives – including your own:

What is a whole blood donation?

For a whole blood donation, about one pint of blood is collected and separated into red cells, platelets and plasma; and cryoprecipitate is also manufactured to allow a single person’s gift to save or sustain as many as four lives in their community.   The actual act of giving whole blood is between six- and 10 minutes; the whole process including a health history screening and mini-physical takes about 45 minutes.

What is a double red cell donation?

You can give two units of red blood cells with no side effects other than feeling twice as good about saving lives. Red blood cells are the most used blood component for surgery, trauma and treatment of blood disorders. When an individual donates whole blood, LifeShare separates a single unit of red blood cells using manual procedures in the laboratory. Now, new technologies allow for the collection of two units of red cells from a single donation through a process known as double red cell (2RBC) apheresis. The special advantage of the procedure is that you are able to give two units of red blood cells without any ill effects.  Plus, this procedure involves a small needle and donors are given a hydrating boost of saline solution during the process.

Who should donate double red cells?

Donors with blood types O and B typically are the best for this donation procedure. These are the types most in demand from hospitals served by The Blood Center and the types most difficult to provide in adequate quantities.

Are there any special requirements for donating double red cells?

Yes. The weight and height requirements are different for both men and women.

• Males: Minimum 130 pounds and 5’1" in height
• Females: Minimum 150 pounds and 5’3" in height
• Iron level: For both men and women – 40 percent or 13.3 hemoglobin
• Donation interval: three times annually or every 16 weeks (versus six times annually or every eight weeks for a whole blood donation)
Other reasons to donate double red blood cells through apheresis:
• You will help LifeShare better match your donation to the needs of patients.
• You will help stabilize the regional blood inventory, especially in times when blood donations are needed most.
• You will maximize your ability to help others without extra visits to donate.

What is a red cell plasma donation (RCP)?

When you give RCP you are able to donate a unit of red cells along with a unit of plasma. 

Red cells are the most commonly needed component of blood.  Most often donated red cells are used by cancer or leukemia patients, but other uses include: accident and trauma victims, premature babies and their mothers, and those with compromised immune systems or anemia, just to name a few. 

Plasma is often used to save those suffering from rare, chronic diseases and disorders or those undergoing major surgery, as well as treatment of severe burns and shock.

The actual process of donating RCP is only about 25 minutes and can save or sustain three lives.  The body will replace the donated plasma in about 24 hours and the red cells in a few weeks. 

This donation type may be given every 56 days, but to qualify, you must be a male weighing at least 150 pounds with a hemoglobin count of 12.5 or better.

About therapeutic blood donations:

If you have a condition and are required to have blood drawn as a form of treatment, you may come to LifeShare for the procedure.  To contact LifeShare’s special donations coordinator, please call Heather Tackett at 440.322.5700 ext. 201 or by e-mail at htackett@lifeshare.cc.

What is platelet pheresis and why am I needed?

Platelets are blood component that helps control bleeding.  Most often donated platelets are transfused into a child or adult battling cancer or leukemia.  During harsh but necessary radiation and chemotherapy treatments, patients’ platelets are destroyed placing them at risk of fatal hemorrhaging.

Unlike red blood cells, which can be stored for 42 days after donation, platelets only have a five day shelf life.  Because testing takes two days, we have a narrow three-day period for transfusion to the patient.  Because of the number of cancer and leukemia patients we are now able to save with advances in transfusion medicine, coupled with a short shelf-life, the need for platelet donors is continuous.

How is a platelet donation different from the traditional blood donation?

Platelets are only one component of blood. There are two other types of components which comprise what most of us refer to as “blood.”   These components are called red blood cells and plasma.  When you cut yourself and see your blood, you can’t actually see with your naked eye the components, but they exist and each has specific functions.

During a traditional blood donation, a person donates about one pint of blood. Shortly after the donation is completed, our laboratory then separates that blood into its three components and also manufactures cryoprecipitate.  Because there are only approximately two ounces of platelets in this traditional blood donation, five different donors’ platelets must be combined to create one therapeutic dose.

A platelet pheresis donation differs from a whole blood donation in a few basic ways:

During apheresis, the three components of your blood (red cells, platelets and plasma) are separated while you donate instead of after your donation.  Your blood is separated with a machine that can isolate the platelets and keep them while returning the red cells and plasma back to you.

Is it safe to donate platelets?

Yes, it is safe to donate platelets. Your blood never comes in contact with the machine. The material used to collect your blood is a sterile one-use-only kit .   As a result, you can not contract AIDS or any other transmissible disease from donating platelets.   In addition, healthy people have an ample supply of platelets in their bodies.  So you will still have more than enough platelets left after your donation. In fact, your body will replenish the platelets you have donated within 72 hours.

Who can donate platelets?

If you meet the requirements for giving blood, you probably can give platelets. Platelets donors must:

• Be at least 17 years old.
• Must have successfully donated whole blood or automated double red cells at least once.
• Be in good health.
• Weigh at least 110 pounds.
• Not have taken aspirin or products containing aspirin for 48 hours prior to donation.

While a platelet donation takes from 60- to 90 minutes, you get a chance to sit in a comfortable chair, watch a movie or just relax and enjoy other people who give in this special way.  If you are interested in making an appointment to donate in Lorain County, call 440.322.7150; in Cuyahoga County, call 1.800.317.5412 ext. 132; in Stark County, call 330.489.1076.

What is plasma apheresis?

Modern, sophisticated medical equipment can now collect plasma for transfusion from a single donor, returning the rest of the blood’s components back to you during the process.  It is a simple, safe process that is quite similar to standard blood donation.

Why is plasma needed?

Blood is made of four components: platelets, plasma, red blood cells, and white blood cells. Plasma is instrumental in maintaining blood pressure and supplying critical proteins for blood clotting and immunity. Plasma transfusion is most often used to control bleeding due to low levels of some clotting factors.  Plasma helps many of our community’s most defenseless patients including newborn babies, leukemia patients, burn patients, and those who have undergone transplant or cardiovascular therapy.

What is the experience like?

Through a sophisticated process called apheresis, whole blood is separated into components and the plasma is removed. During the comfortable process donors relax, watch TV or read. The entire process takes about 15-20 minutes longer than a whole blood donation and your body’s plasma is replenished in about 48 hours.

How often can I donate plasma?

Plasma pheresis can be safely given every 28 days.

What is granulocyte pheresis donation and why am I needed?

When a patient needs a granulocyte (gran ye lo site), the LifeShare staff shifts into emergency overdrive. 

The concentrated white cell donation, or series of donations, is called for when every form of antibiotic therapy has failed and generally either the patient’s life or an appendage is immediately at stake. 

The urgency of the clinical situation and fragility of the cellular matter require the granulocyte be transfused into the patient immediately after donation.  The patient is infused slowly over two- to four-hours.

Formed in the bone marrow, granulocytes are defined on the basis of their granular appearance on microscopic examination after application of a stain.

Donors for this emergency, patient-specific product are very difficult to identify.  Donations must be compatible by blood type and RH factor.  In most cases the attending physician also requires a donor who is cytomegalovirus (CMV) negative. 

The donation process for granulocytes is done through apheresis and is similar to donating platelets. The same cell separating machine is used, but the procedure time is longer and can take up to 135 minutes.

LifeShare is the only source of granulocytes to all of Northern Ohio.    The Blood Center also provides the first donor in a patient’s series with a teddy bear and a card to personalize.  The gift and personal well-wishes are sent to the patient along with the emergency white cell donation.

If you are willing to be placed on our First Responders List to save a person whose life is immediately at stake, please call 440.322.7150 or toll free 800.317.5412  ext. 132. 

What is an autologous or directed donation?

Individuals may donate blood for their own scheduled surgeries.  This is known as an autologous donation.  Patients may also recruit friends or family members to donate blood on their behalf prior to elective surgery.  Although no evidence exists that this manner of donation is safer than blood from the community blood supply, LifeShare Community Blood Services offers this option as part of its commitment to patient service. For more information please call 1.440.322.5700 ext. 201 or e-mail htackett@lifeshare.cc to reach Special Donations Coordinator Heather Tackett.



Last Updated On: April 22, 2013
LifeShare Administrative Office: 105 Cleveland St., Elyria, Ohio 44035 • Ph: 440.322.5700 Fx: 440.322.6240
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