How Are Red Blood Cells Collected?
Red blood cells are prepared from whole blood by removing the plasma (the liquid portion of the blood). Sometimes this is done after a person donates a pint of whole blood, resulting in multiple components (red cells, plasma and platelets) that can be given to different patients. Learn more about the different components that can be obtained from a whole blood donation.
Other times, it is done during the donation itself, using a process called apheresis. In this case, only the red cells are retained and the patient’s plasma and platelets are returned to them. Some donors say that this leaves them feeling more hydrated than giving a whole blood donation.
Red cells have a shelf life of up to 42 days, depending on the type of anticoagulant used when they are stored. They can also be treated and frozen for 10 years or more.