White blood cell donation overview
Types of Donations
There are various ways to donate blood products to help our cancer patients. While every donation is important, some can be more critical at times. Each part of the blood plays a special role in helping our cancer patients heal and recover. There is no substitute for blood and it cannot be made or manufactured. Please consider taking the time to help.
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 & 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 7 days, 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 5 days. 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.
White blood cells
Granulocytes are white blood cells (WBCs) that are essential for fighting fungal and bacterial infections, especially in severely immunosuppressed patients. The physician’s order to transfuse granulocytes is an involved, emergent process and will require the family to recruit donors who come from a pool of family members and friends of the patient.
Granulocyte Donation is a three-step procedure. These steps are also available in a downloadable format in English and Spanish.
Step 1 – Platelet Prescreen and Qualification
Potential donors must refrain from taking aspirin, aspirin-containing products, medications containing ibuprofen as well as herbal products and energy drinks that contain ginseng, ginko biloba, ginger, garlique for 48 hours prior to their platelet prescreen appointment
Call 713-792-7777 to schedule an appointment. Appointments are required. You may schedule your platelet appointment online.
Blood Donor Center at Holly Hall – 2555 Holly Hall Street, just east of Almeda Road, open daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Prescreen takes approximately 2 hours. At this session, potential donors will answer questions regarding their medical history, have a brief physical exam performed, pregnancy screening for females, infectious disease screening drawn and platelets will be collected. A financial credit will be given to the designated patient for the platelet collection. This is a one arm procedure (a needle will be inserted into one arm).
Within 72 hours after the platelet prescreen, one of our Transfusion Medicine Physicians or Nurses will contact the donor to inform them of their qualification for granulocyte donation. The WBC Coordinator will then schedule their pre-donation screening and granulocyte donation.
Step 2 – WBC Pre-Donation Screening and Medications
The donor does not need an appointment for this screening, but should present to the Holly Hall Blood Donor Center between 1p.m. - 5 p.m. the day prior to their scheduled donation. If you are unable to arrive at the donor center prior to 5 p.m., please call to make other arrangements. Any medications not picked up by 5 p.m. or arranged to pick up at an alternate time will be returned to the pharmacy and the donation will be cancelled.
During this step, the donor will have additional infectious disease screening, pregnancy screening for females, and will receive their stimulation medications. This appointment takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
The medications will be self-administered by the donor at 8 p.m. the night prior to donation. Instructions for self-administration will be provided during the screening appointment.
Step 3 – Granulocyte Donation
Donation starts at 8 a.m. and takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours. This is a two-arm procedure (needles will be in both arms simultaneously).
Donations are only performed at the Holly Hall Blood Donor Center.
White blood cell general information (printable)
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Double Red Cell Donation
request an appointment online.