Whole blood: This is collected using a single needle and a blood bag. A donor can donate every 56 days (eight weeks). This collection takes only about 7-12 minutes; the complete process takes about 20 to 40 minutes; red blood cells have a 42-day shelf-life.
Platelet and platelet plus red blood cells: These are collected using a single needle with an apheresis machine. This machine will then spin the blood and separate its components. The machine can keep the platelets and/or the platelets and the red cells. The machine can then return the remaining components to back to the donor in intervals. A platelet donor can donate once every 48 hours, but not more than 24 times in a 12-month period. This collection takes 1 to 1 1/2 hours, the complete process takes between 1 1/2 and 2 hours. Platelets are only good for 48 hours. MD Anderson transfuses approximately 600 platelet components daily
Double red cells: These are collected using a single needle with an apheresis machine. This machine will spin the blood and separate its components, keeping only the red cells and returning the remaining components back to the donor in intervals.
If a donor donates double red cells they will not be eligible to donate any other type of blood product for 112 days (16 weeks). This collection takes 25-35 minutes, the complete process takes between 35 and 45 minutes. MD Anderson needs approximately 200 units of red cells daily.
Note: There are minimum height and weight requirements for double red cell donations.