Do you ever wonder what makes the trillions of cells coursing through your veins so vital to everyday life? The components of blood—red blood cells, platelets and plasma—truly are wondrous; each has a specific, life-sustaining job.
Special technology allows us to collect these amazing blood components from donors to best match patient needs. Your donation helps build better tomorrows for those who need it. Here's how:

  • Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body. They are needed most for patients who have experienced significant blood loss from trauma, or for patients undergoing surgery or battling anemia.
  • Platelets are essential for blood clotting and, with a shelf life of only five days, are routinely needed to support cancer therapy, open-heart surgery, blood disorders and organ transplants.
  • Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood and is used to treat patients in shock and those with severe burns and clotting disorders.
Whole Blood

This is the most universal term for blood donation and is offered at all Vitalant donation centers and blood drives. During whole blood donation, we collect roughly one pint of blood. It is then typed and tested using our state-of-the-art technology. Your life-transforming gift is then processed, the components are separated and stored in individual bags and sent for patient transfusion. That’s why one donation can help up to three patients.


An apheresis donation is a specialized process that allows Vitalant to collect only specific blood components from our donors using a machine that separates and collects red blood cells, platelets or plasma (or a combination of one or more). The remaining components are safely returned to the donor. All blood donors can make apheresis donations if they meet certain criteria.  

Double Red Cell (Power Red) Donations are used for traumatic injuries and pediatric patients in which the optimal donor blood types are O-, O+, A- and B- and the total estimated time commitment is about 1.5 to 2 hours and the actual estimated donation time is about 30-45 minutes and the shelf life is 42 days and the minimum donation interval are every 112 days and up to 3x max per year; Platelet donations are used for cancer treatments and organ transplants, optimal donor types are O+, A+, B+ and AB+, the total estimated time commitment is about 2.5 to 3 hours, the actual estimated donation time is about 2 hours, the shelf life is 5 days and the minimum donation intervals are every 7 days and up to 24x max per year; Plasma Donations are used for burns and blood disorders, the optimal donor types are AB+ and AB-, the total estimated time commitment is about 2 hours, the actual estimated donation time is about an hour, the shelf life is 1 year, and the minimum donation intervals are every 28 days and up to 13x max per year. Not all donation types are available at all locations. Final eligibility for any blood donation is determined on the day of donation.

While apheresis donation takes a little more of your time in the chair (from 30 minutes up to two hours), it allows you to maximize your lifesaving effort by giving hospitals the resources they need to provide the right transfusion for the right patient. That is a great way to make the most out of every moment you spend giving blood.

Are you ready to transform lives? Donate now