Today I went to the blood center to donate blood. I expected to give whole blood, but the receptionist asked if I wanted to try donating double red cells this time. I wasn't familiar with it, but she explained that it would be able to help twice as many patients as a whole blood donation. This sounded good to me, and I agreed to do it.
How does it work?
When donating double red cells, a needle is placed in your arm, and blood is drawn as normal. It goes through tubes until it reaches a centrifuge which spins quickly, separating the blood into different components based on molecular size. The red blood cells are collected, and the rest of the blood (plasma, white blood cells, etc.) is stored and eventually returned to your body through the same needle. Along with the unneeded components, a saline solution is returned to your body to make up for the lost volume. This process is then repeated, making two total units donated.
Donating double red cells has several advantages over whole blood donation:
Donating double red cells will take about 30 minutes longer than a whole blood donation. In addition, there are several requirements that must be met:
Another difference is that after donating double red cells, you will have to wait 16 weeks to donate again, as compared to eight for whole blood donation. However, this reduces your number of visits to the blood center, and the number of phone calls they have to make. Everybody wins!