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Your Blood Components

Red Blood Cells

Cells containing hemoglobin transport oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body and remove carbon dioxide and waste. Red blood cells are used for more than 70 percent of all transfusions and can be stored out of the body for up to 42 days in a 1-6°C refrigerator.

One double red cell donation yields as many red blood cells as two whole blood donations. Red blood cells carry oxygen and are often given to surgery and trauma patients and those with blood disorders such as anemia and sickle cell anemia. A double red blood cell donation typically takes 20 minutes longer than a whole blood donation. You can donate whole blood every 56 days and double red blood cells every 112 days.

Note: O-, O+, A-, and B-blood types are optimal for red blood cell donation. Whole blood or double red cell donations are preferred


Platelets are small cells in the blood that induce clotting and control bleeding. They can be stored out of the body for up to five days in a room temperature incubator. Three of those days are spent on testing, so platelet donors are always needed.

A single platelet donation yields as many platelets as normally present in six whole blood donations. Platelets are given to help stop bleeding in patients recovering from cancer, leukemia, open-heart surgery and transplant surgery. A platelet donation typically takes between 90 and 120 minutes. You can donate platelets every 14 days.

Note: A+, AB+, AB- and B+ blood types are optimal for platelet donation


Plasma is a pale yellow mixture of water, proteins and salts that acts as a carrier for blood cells, nutrients, enzymes and hormones. It can be kept in a frozen state for up to one year.

One plasma donation yields as much plasma as three whole blood donations. Because plasma carries clotting factors and nutrients, it is often given to trauma patients, organ transplant recipients, newborns and patients with clotting disorders.

Note: AB blood types are optimal for plasma donation

White Blood Cells

White blood cells protect the body against disease and infection. They move through the blood stream to attack and absorb bacteria.