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Platelet Donation

What is a Platelet Donation?

During a platelet donation, a small portion of your blood (about 1/4 pint at a time), is drawn from your arm and passed through a sophisticated cell-separating machine. The machine collects the platelets and safely returns the remaining blood components, along with some saline, back to you. After the donation you can resume your normal activities, avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous exercise that day.

Should you be a Platelet Donor?

A single platelet donation can provide enough platelets for a full therapeutic dose for a patient in need. In fact, some platelet donations yield enough platelets for two or three therapeutic doses. By contrast, it takes four to six whole blood donations to produce a single therapeutic dose.

Many patients who need platelets are undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems. A platelet dose from a single donor reduces the patient’s exposure to multiple donors and is therefore preferred by many physicians.

Platelet Donors
Platelet Chart Thumbnail One platelet donation can be worth from 12 to 18 whole blood donations.

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If you are a donor with Type AB blood

Type AB Donors NeededYou may be ideal for a simultaneous platelet and plasma donation. Anyone in need can receive your plasma, it is universal. Only 4% of the U.S. population has this blood type.


The need is great for Platelet Donations

Male Platelet DonorsAll blood donors with A+, B+, and AB blood types are encouraged to consider a platelet donation.  Need for other blood types may vary by location.

Recently, it has been discovered that women who have previously been pregnant are more likely to carry antibodies that are believed to sometimes cause post-transfusion complications for blood recipients.  Until these complications are better understood, the Red Cross will ask new female platelet donors about their pregnancy history and test those that have been pregnant for these antibodies. A positive result has no impact on the health of the donor, however donors who are positive for antibodies may be advised that they are better suited to red cell donation.

Key Facts About Platelet Donations

  • Platelet donations are collected at select American Red Cross Blood Donation Centers only.
  • Donors cannot take aspirin or medications containing aspirin within two full calendar days prior to a platelet donation (three full calendar days in the state of New York).
  • You can donate up to 24 times per year.
  • Plasma can be collected simultaneously with a platelet donation.  Plasma can be collected every 28 days up to 13 times per year.
  • The entire process may take two to three hours using both arms to ensure a full donation. This is because it takes time to separate and collect the platelets from the other blood components. Donors are encouraged to relax during the donation – videos, TV and wireless internet are available in some locations.
  • Call 1-800-RED-CROSS for platelet donation opportunities at a local American Red Cross Blood Donation Center near you.
  • To pass the time while you donate, you may listen to music or simply relax during the donation process.  Most American Red Cross Donation Centers also offer TVs or DVD players.  WiFi is also available at some locations.
  • To make sure you’re helping provide the blood product needed most to hospital patients, we encourage you to focus on donating platelets only.
  • A platelet donation is also called a 'platelet apheresis' or 'platelet pheresis' donation.

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