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Types of Donations

At Inova Blood Donor Services, you can choose to donate whole blood or specific blood components.

Whole Blood

The most common blood donation type is a whole blood donation. Donors give one pint of blood containing all four blood components, which include:
  • Red blood cells
  • Platelets
  • Plasma
  • White blood cells
Each donation of whole blood is taken to the testing lab where the white blood cells are filtered out. The unit is then separated into its remaining components: platelets, plasma and red blood cells.

Whole blood donors are eligible to give blood every 56 days.

Automated Blood Collection (ABC)

ABC PDF uses a process known as apheresis. Apheresis involves withdrawing whole blood from the donor, separating out one or more of its components (platelets, plasma and red blood cells) and returning the remaining blood safely to the donor. ABC allows us to collect the most needed blood components based on local-patient transfusion needs, donor types and other donor qualifications.

The Apheresis Process:
  1. Whole blood flows through single-use sterile tubing into a centrifuge chamber that “spins” your blood and separates the blood into its various components
  2. Each component is collected into its corresponding bag
  3. The unused components are returned to the donor during a “return cycle”
Components of an ABC Donation:
  • Red blood cells (hyperlink to components page) carry oxygen to all parts of the body
  • Platelets (hyperlink to components page) help control bleeding
  • Plasma (hyperlink to components page) is the fluid portion of the blood that transports red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets throughout the body. Plasma can also help control bleeding
  • Platelet donors are eligible to give blood every 14 days.
  • Double Red Cell donors are eligible to give blood every 112 days.

Qualifications for Platelet Donors

  • Be at least 17 years of age
  • Be in good health
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds
  • Not have taken any aspirin or aspirin-based products within 48 hours prior to donation

Qualifications for Double Red Cell Donors

Gender     Donor Height     Donor Weight     Donor Age     Donor Hemoglobin (Iron Level)
Male At least 5’1” At least 130 lbs. At least 17 > 13.3 g/dL
Female At least 5’5” At least 150 lbs. At least 17 > 13.3 g/dL

Autologous Blood Donations

In rare instances, such as when someone has a unique set of markers or antigens in his/her blood, or are about to undergo a highly complex surgical procedure, a physician may recommend that an individual have his/her blood drawn and reserved for the upcoming surgery.

In these cases, Inova Blood Donor Services can draw and transfer blood to the hospital performing the surgery. If you are interested in autologous blood donation, please speak with your physician.

Blood that is drawn autologously and is not used during surgery is immediately and properly disposed of. The nature of autologous donations does not require that the donated unit(s) go through the same rigorous testing as blood donated for use by the general patient population.