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What Happens to the Blood You Donated?

Despite technological advances, blood transfusions in hospitals are only possible thanks to donor blood. Nearly seven million Americans donate blood annually, which only amounts to three percent of age-eligible people. Donating blood is a lifesaving act that is especially important during the current pandemic. 

Recently, the Red Cross said it is experiencing the worst blood shortage in over a decade. This blog serves as a reminder of the power of a single donation.

4 Types of Blood Donation

You can choose from several types of blood donations when you give blood. 

  • Whole Blood Donation

Whole blood donations, in which a pint of blood is collected and separated into red blood cells, plasma, and platelets, are the most common type of blood donation. However, whole blood transfusions are less common, except in cases where patients have experienced significant blood loss from surgery or injury. When separated, whole blood can benefit several people. All blood types are preferred donors.

  • Platelet Donation

Platelets are essential for blood clotting and preventing excessive bleeding. To collect platelets, a centrifuge is used to separate them from red blood cells. The platelets are collected while the red blood cells are returned to the donor’s blood. Platelet donations are used for patients with chronic diseases and trauma patients. Preferred donors are those with blood types A+, A-, B+, O+, AB+, and AB-.

  • Plasma Donation

Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood that helps your blood clot, fights infection, regulates blood pressure, and maintains a pH balance. During a plasma donation, your blood is run through a centrifuge which separates the plasma. The remaining red blood cells and platelets are then returned to your blood. Plasma helps patients who have experienced trauma, including severe accidents or burns. It also helps patients with blood disorders or who have weakened immune systems. The two preferred donors are AB+ and AB-.

  • Double Red Cell Donation

A power red donation means giving two units of red blood cells. The cells are separated from the platelets and plasma, then returned to your body. Red blood cells are important because they help deliver oxygen, so they are often transfused to people who have lost a lot of blood from an injury. The preferred donors are those with blood types O+, O-, A-, and B-.

What Is Donated Blood Used for?

Donated blood is normally separated into red blood cells, plasma, and platelets so that it can help several patients. The blood can treat various conditions and problems, depending on what is needed.

1. Cancer

Cancer patients often have trouble keeping up with their blood production. For example, leukemia, which damages bone marrow, can cause low platelet and red blood cell counts. Chemotherapy to treat cancer can also damage bone marrow and limit blood cell production.

2. Blood Disorders

Different disorders can affect various blood components—for instance, anemia (low red blood cells), hemophilia (low plasma), or thrombocytopenia (low platelets).

3. Sickle Cell Disease

This disease, which primarily affects people of African descent, causes red blood cells to be shaped abnormally. This can make it difficult for blood to flow. One way to treat it is to do a red blood cell transfusion. This is especially done before surgeries to help with blood flow.

4. Trauma

Severe injuries that cause significant bleeding generally require transfusions of red blood cells and plasma. Plasma donations can help patients who need assistance in stopping the bleeding.

5. Surgery

Surgeries can cause patients to lose a lot of blood, requiring a blood transfusion. Red blood cells, platelets, and plasma are all needed to stop severe bleeding.


The current blood shortage crisis is worrisome. However, it also serves as a reminder that a single donation can help someone in need. Any donation amount helps, regardless of the type of donation. While there has been an increase in new blood donors, it is still not enough to address the growing demand for blood.

thplasma is a plasma donation center in New Jersey proudly steeped in community, driven by innovation, and guided by genuine care for our donors. We treat every employee and donor as part of our family, sharing our passion for saving lives. Donate plasma in New Jersey today.